Roberts back on stage
NL grad part of Kids from Wisconsin
By Scott Bellile
A graduate fresh out of New London High School will spend her summer in show business.
Emelia Roberts returns to the Kids from Wisconsin show troupe for her second season. The alto singer will be among 36 performers who travel 6,000 miles throughout the state to dozens of shows between June 21 and Aug. 18.
2018 marks the Kids from Wisconsin’s 50th season. The theme, “Shine the Light,” will focus on the popular music the Kids have performed between 1969 and the present.
The daughter of Tara and Michael Lawton and Bob Roberts, Emelia Roberts is off to 15 days of camp on June 2. The Kids’ 22 singers and 14 band members will build their summer show from the ground up during a couple weeks of rehearsals that Kids from Wisconsin even describes as “intense.” Roberts said she is prepared.
“I know how to go into it with a positive mindset: ‘OK, I’ve done this before. I can do it again. I’m not going to die,’” Roberts said with a laugh.
Despite the exhausting days, Roberts said she is excited to return to the group she calls a “family.”
“You just like love them, literally,” Roberts said. “Everyone’s just very focused on making it a successful show and that’s what brings us together, I think, is our love for music.”
Roberts had to audition with everyone else despite being involved last year. She said she felt nervous again given the “bigger and better” show that naturally comes with a milestone year.
Participating in Kids from Wisconsin last year helped improved Roberts’s auditioning, stage presence, confidence and even her smile, she said.
She hopes to help others with their smiles in the future, not as a choreographer, but rather as a dental professional. Roberts plans to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth this fall to study for a dental career.
“My stepdad is a dentist and I’ve just always looked up to him, and there’s no music that could outpower that love and admiration, I guess,” Roberts said.
Although Roberts will be all over the state this summer, local residents can catch her on her hometown stage at NLHS on July 26 at 7 p.m.
“Emelia is a dynamic performer who brings her own style partnered with endless energy to the stage,” NLHS choir director Lori Flury stated in an email to the Press Star. “As a second year member of The Kids from Wisconsin Show Troupe, Emelia will again proudly represent the New London School District and the City of New London.”
Roberts is New London’s primary representative in Kids from Wisconsin, but three more students have degrees of involvement. Trent Kloehn and Maraya Bult are understudies who will attend rehearsal camp in June. A third student, Katarina Wickman, is an alternate.
People can order tickets for the July 26 show at the School District of New London administrative office, the New London Area Chamber of Commerce, First State Bank and Wolf River Community Bank. Tickets are also available on the Brown Paper Tickets website by searching “Kids from Wisconsin New London.”
Advance tickets cost $10 for general admission or $20 for reserved seating. Tickets will also be sold at the door on July 26.
The New London Lions Club coordinates the event, but many businesses and organizations including the school district and chamber make the event possible through sponsorships, according to Travis Kloehn, chairman of the Lions’ Kids from Wisconsin Committee.
“They’re really critical,” Kloehn said. “I mean without the sponsorships, we couldn’t afford it.”
A Kids from Wisconsin show costs $5,400 to bring to town, Kloehn said. After the Lions break even through ticket sales, they return the profits to the community.
Roberts’s debut show last July was the highest selling in Kloehn’s decade with the Lions Club, he said. He hopes to see the same success this year given the fanfare around the 50-season milestone.
The Kids’ visit will include a free hands-on performing arts workshop called “Realize Your Dream” for children ages 7 to 14. The workshop will take place from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at NLHS. Parents can register at www.kidsfromwi.org/outreach.
New London in the Kids
As Kids from Wisconsin looks back at its 50 seasons, here are some facts on New London’s long history with the show troupe.
• The complete lineup: Kids from Wisconsin claims 15 New London alumni so far: Colette Collier-Trohan (1970-1971), Jill Engel (1992), Nicole Goodreau (2013-2015), Kerry Griebenow (1973-1974), Brenda Grove-Larsen (1985-1987), Summer Herzfeldt (2009-2011), Casey Houlihan (2013-2014), David Littmann (1982-1983), Steve Myers (Shober) (1974), Al Northouse (2001), Emelia Roberts (2017-2018), Mark Schmandt (1983), Spencer Strand (1993), Michael Triolo (1995-1999) and Ted Williams (1997-2001).
• Frequent performers: Two-thirds of all New London Kids returned for a second season. The most involved New London alumni, Michael Triolo and Ted Williams, each participated for five seasons and are among 17 Kids from Wisconsin five-timers. Nicole Goodreau, Brenda Grove-Larsen and Summer Herzfeldt each did three seasons.
• Pioneers: New London’s first member was Colette Collier-Trohan, who performed for the Kids’ second season in 1970. Kerry Griebenow and Steve Myers (Shober) also joined within the first five years.