When she performs, she feels joy, conveys joy and creates joy.
One of the brightest lights on the local theater scene, Joy Ellis has done dynamic and memorable work in the Players Guild musicals “Sister Act” and “Memphis,” playing a street-smart novice nun and a fiery nightclub singer. On November 2, Ellis opens in another Guild musical production, “Aida,” this time portraying a Nubian princess torn between forbidden love and duty.
As a married mother of two, with a busy schedule of teaching vocal students, Ellis is understandably selective about the roles she plays. Between rehearsals and performances, theater is a demanding pastime.
“I have a family. I can’t run from show to show,” Ellis said. “I’m mindful that my kids (Alston, 12, and Averi, 9) and my husband (Michael) need me at home. I’m at a point in my life where I need to believe in the show. It needs to be something not morally contradictory to who I am as a person.”
And yet, she yearns for the experience.
“What draws me back to the stage every time is the connection that I feel with the audience,” Ellis said. “I like musical theater because I’m able to sing and give it my all, and I don’t feel judged. It gives me great fulfillment to be able to work on something for six weeks and say, ‘This is what we put together. I hope you love it.’ ”
“Right before I go onstage, I’m so excited. It’s nerves but excited nerves. I cannot wait to do this. It’s incredible.”
Her first stage role was at age 7 in a play about Martin Luther King at a community center in Sharon, Pennsylvania. “I sang ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’ as Coretta Scott King,” Ellis recalled. Later, at Washington High in Massillon, she was very involved in speech team and took fourth place at nationals in humorous interpretation.
Ellis finds gratification in teaching young vocalists privately.
“I love seeing talented kids get into singing or being an artist,” she said. “I want to give back from all the experiences I’ve been blessed with. I’m trying to tap all the potential I can. I want to add to the community and future generations.”
As if her plate weren’t full enough, Ellis also is worship pastor at Reachmark Church in downtown Canton, where she both sings and preaches.
“If people come to church, they’ll definitely see some Players Guild people on my praise team,” she said. “There’s some theater coming up. Sometimes we have an all-singing Sunday. Anything that’s music-related to the flow of worship, that’s in my court.”
Local Theater Performances
“Unnecessary Farce,” a comedy about an embezzling mayor, a cheap motel room and two undercover cops.
November 9-18, Kent State University at Stark, Jackson Township.
”It’s a Wonderful Life,” a stage version of the beloved 1946 Frank Capra film.
December 14-22, Avenue Arts Marketplace & Theatre, Canton.
”Aladdin Jr.,” a youth version of the Disney musical comedy about a prince, a princess and a a genie.
November 30-December 9, Carnation City Players, Alliance.
”Jingles of Christmas Past,” a holiday variety show.
November 30-December 9, North Canton Playhouse.
”Babes in Toyland,” a fanciful family musical.
Theatre 8:15, Green.
”Miracle on 34th Street,” a department-store Santa must go on trial to prove his authenticity.
November 9-18, Canal Fulton Players.