Local residents feature in LaVilla fall musical

Local residents feature in LaVilla fall musical
Nick Nasta (Shrek), Vivienne Gianneschi (Dragon), Auggie Pulliam (Donkey), Director Amber Amerson, Rachel Salvador (Lord Farquaad) kneeling, Natalie Ealum (Fiona), Ellie Germaine (Gingy)

The masterminds behind the LaVilla School of the Arts fall musical, “Shrek Jr.,” reads as a Who’s Who from the historic districts.

Guests at the show’s two November performances may have recognized familiar names, including Riverside resident Amber Amerson, the head of the school’s theatre department and musical director; Assistant Director Chelsea Virta-Steel of Avondale, and Ortega resident Abbie Malkewitz, Technical Theatre Teacher in charge of production design and technical direction for the musical.

LaVilla seventh-grade student Tucker Sharp and great-niece of Jane Condon (center) with Amber Amerson

LaVilla seventh-grade student Tucker Sharp and great-niece of Jane Condon (center) with Amber Amerson

A good portion of the cast, too, hails from those necks of the woods. Two of the main characters are played by Ortega residents. Young Fiona was played by Dakota Burton and Young Shrek was played by Adam Russell. In addition, others in the crew and cast from the historic neighborhoods included Mya Wilkes, Blythe Stanley, Tucker Sharp, Ben Sandlin, James Miller, Juliana Leach, Coral Day, Bella Peirpoint, Aliyah Johnson and Sam Taplin.

“She is as talented as she is dedicated. From the second week of school in August until showtime, she worked every day after school directing the play,” said Sally Sharp, LaVilla communications director. “She brings the best out of middle-school talent and you quickly forget how young the actors are, it is so well-done and professional.”

Amerson comes by her education and leadership abilities genetically. Her mother, Jackie Cornelius, retired in June as principal of the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, having served the Duval County Public Schools for 47 years. Amerson may be following in her footsteps.

“Amber truly invests in the students and gives them invaluable life-coaching disguised as theatre,” said Sharp. “Amber is not really compensated for this huge undertaking – she does it for the kids.”

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