Because family musicals die hard …

Oh you guys. You are in for a treat today, and by treat I mean a little bit of torture — less like physical pain, more the awkwardness that can only be associated with family videos … but it’s for a good cause. You’ve all seen “Waiting for Guffman,” the docu-reality movie about community theater, right? But that was a film, a work of fiction, not true at all, and yet SOOOO TRUE. The Starke family (my maiden name) should be making royalties on its success as I’m SURE Christopher Guest was in the audience of our self-produced dinner theater called  ‘A Chip Off the Old Block’ in Coos Bay, Oregon, 1986. It’s something none of us will truly forget and thank God we don’t have to because we have the footage of it.

starke family performing

A little back story: My parents have six kids, we all lived out in the Oregon country 20 minutes away from the nearest Super Big Gulp full of diet coke. Every summer, my parents, who were both teachers, tried to engage us in a project as a family — to build something together. This always included 4 – H and some sort of raising of a farm animal, most notably a sheep that ruined my seventh year, but one summer it also included us producing a play with a couple other families. Not just a play; a dinner theater where innocent people paid to eat what I can’t imagine was amazing food and watch amateurs perform songs in matching clothes (by family, of course). It was written by each family, produced by all the families, and we built the sets, made the costumes, and organized the rehearsals all on our own.  A true indie feat of Soderburg proportions.

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So, I’d like for you all to watch this video of my family singing “We’ve All Got Daddy’s Nose.” It’s a serious old VHS recorded piece so please note that we are all wearing those glasses that have noses and mustaches attached indicating that we all had, yes, daddy’s nose. We are missing two kids, one comes in at the end, Ken, and the last one, I forget her name, Katy, I think, wasn’t born yet. (JUST KIDDING, KATY!!!!) It starts off slow with our backs to you while Michelle sings, so you really have to wait for it and I suggest you do. I’m the one on the right that is little and clearly has a future in modeling and Broadway.

That was just a taste, and the whole production was like 30 performances. It was 100 percent awesome. We did it as a family, took it so seriously, and we have these insane memories and footage to look at and laugh together for the rest of our lives. We are all so totally grateful for it and watching these as a family is one of our favorite things to do. In case that wasn’t enough torture, check out this video of me and my dad singing a pretty adorable duet (I was six and I think he was 36):

We were all in musical theater and were always putting on performances as a family. It was just part of our culture.  The point of me making you watch my family videos is to establish what music and performing has been to me and my family, specifically my oldest sister since we were babies.

Because we need something from you.

My oldest (and most musically talented) sister, Michelle, has been teaching music since she was a teenager. She taught piano lessons to kids when she was in high school, and during the summer she would put together these musical week-long camps for 11-year-olds, called Songstruck, that my friends and I went to every summer. 

emily and michelle starke

That’s her, Michelle, handing me some flowers at the end of the performance probably because I did some sort of genius performance of “On My Own,” the song du year in 1990. I had enough volume in my hair to float back to Oregon, and then Alaska.

emily henderson mickey mouse

Here was one of the songs/performances that I clearly really loved; I mean look at that jacked up smile on my face. I be grinnin’ so hard. Michelle did everything — wrote the script, did the choreography, and produced the whole thing.  She did it every summer from, I think, the age of 19 – 24. Quite the feat for a 19-year-old, don’t you say. She’s always been insanely passionate about music, wildly more talented the rest of the bunch, and super ambitious.

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All of this has a point. My sister, Michelle, has a Kickstarter campaign to fund the musical that she’s been working on for three years. In case you don’t know what a Kickstarter campaign is, it’s a way of raising money from individuals that simply want to see a project happen or a product invented. It’s for small entrepreneurs who can’t get venture capitalist backers, and it totally works. Her musical is based on The Scarlet Letter and it’s EPIC, think more “Les Mis,” less “Book of Mormon” (which we both loved as well). There are 12 part harmonies and a full pit orchestra with crazy complex chording and melodies. It’s the real deal.

We are obviously trying to get it in front of Broadway producers, but she’ll have way better of a chance of succeeding if she can do a recording with professional actors/singers and musicians. And like any professional, these people need to get paid in order to set time aside to rehearse and record. So the Kickstarter campaign is to fund the project and get the recording made.

She has four more days to raise the money or she doesn’t make ANY of it — that’s the game of crowd-funding. She’s close, but she/we still need more money. PLUS, she can always go over (“Veronica Mars” movie taught us that, eh fellow donors? They raised five million …) and the extra money will simply go toward a better production value, and possibly buying the musicians teas during their 3am recording sessions.

starke family

So this is me asking you to support my sister if you love musicals, and furthermore if you love this here country, America, because this is the American dream, my friends. She’s been teaching high school choir and running the music program since she was 24. She’s always taken them to state competitions because she is so engaging and so talented. But we all know that teachers are underappreciated and undervalued and this is her chance to be appreciated and valued properly, not to mention that this will help her make her dreams come true.

So go to Kickstarter and check it out. The video doesn’t do it justice. The performances in the video don’t do it justice. It needs to be recorded properly and performed on Broadway to be truly heard and appreciated — but they can’t do that without funds to support it.

I would be EXTREMELY grateful if you guys would help support her. Perhaps someday she’ll organize a reunion tour of the Starke family singing “Daddy’s Nose.”  God help us.

Click HERE to check out more information and support my sister.

  1. WsOyLW I really enjoy the post.Much thanks again. Will read on…

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