Freshman to take the center stage

Keith Hartman, Copy Editor

Pitt-Johnstown freshman Emily Felton will be starring in a lead role of Velma Kelly, in the university musical “Chicago” Thursday through Saturday at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.

Her vocals, energy and a recommendation from her high school theater teacher were the keys to her getting the role.

Felton has a petite build, green eyes and a quick wit. She starred in high school musicals “Hello Dolly,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Oklahoma.”

“You can be someone else for the day. You take on a completely different personality,” she said of the joy in being an actor.

“But, I don’t really like plays; I would rather be in a musical.

“Plays just advertise the acting aspect of the person where a musical shows multiple talents.”

Felton grew up in Davidsville, Somerset County, and went to Conemaugh Township High School, splitting her time among soccer, theater and vocal productions.

Getting selected for a lead role in a musical production is not an easy task and is usually something saved for upperclassmen, who are more experienced.

“She’s the only one in the show who’s not a veteran of the Theatre Department,” said Pitt-Johnstown theater professor, Ann Marie Stewart.

Despite her major role, Stewart said there is no added stress due to her inexperience.

She was scouted in high school by women’s soccer head coach Jim Herlinger for the goalie position.

“When she was on the field and the action was away from her, she would sing. She’s a real fun character. Everyone got to know her like that, too, and she would get embarrassed when you asked her about it,” Herlinger said.

Ultimately, she decided not to play soccer on the university level.

Felton is majoring in actuarial math, a discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance and finance.