What is Once Upon a Time?

No one plans to get sick. Certainly no parent ever plans on their child getting sick. But illnesses happen—real, terrifying, and even life-threatening illnesses. Like cancer. And we have to fight it together.

Once Upon a Time began as a benefit in 2016 in support of a beautiful 13-year-old Acting Studio student named Ella Weaver, who was then battling lymphoma. When we learned she was ill, we all took the news hard. Just a few years earlier, another Studio student and her family had walked a similar journey. It wasn’t fair, and it made no sense. But theatre people don’t know how to sit around and do nothing. We like to act. And we love—truly love—our community.

So we decided to put on a show.

By the grace of God, Ella is a healthy and happy teenager today. But Once Upon a Time was so successful in its first year, and enriched all of our lives so much, that we have decided to make it an annual fundraising benefit. The event embodies the Acting Studio’s belief in giving back to others, and to helping people step out of the darkness—if only for a night—into the joy and light that is musical theatre.

2017 Event Recap

Our benefit this year was held on Monday, September 25, 2017, and included a full-scale production, featuring Acting Studio students and musical theatre professionals whose credits range from regional to Broadway, as well as a silent auction.

In keeping with the spirit of our inaugural event, which assisted the Weaver family through a trying time, this year’s proceeds went directly to support Heroes for Children, a charity that provides financial and social assistance to families in Texas with children (ages 0-22) battling cancer. In addition, we honored a new Rockwall Acting Studio student, Isabella Dement, & her family, as they courageously navigate the hardships of chemotherapy.

We’re also pleased to have produced our 2017 event in partnership with Lyric Stage at the historic Majestic Theatre. Our show included songs from crowd-pleasing Disney favorites like Beauty & the Beast, Mary Poppins, Newsies, and more!

Ready to get involved next year? Check back soon to learn how you can be a part of this magical evening!

Thanks to your support, OUAT17 was a huge success!

Once Upon a Time was performed on September 25, 2017, in support of  Heroes for Children, a local Texas nonprofit providing financial & social assistance to families with children battling cancer.

Our incredible, heartwarming showcase featured Acting Studio students performing live with award-winning DFW regional professionals at the incredible Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas.

Photos, video clips & donation totals coming soon!

The Acting Studio, through its benefit last year for our daughter, Ella, made an incredible and life-changing impact on our family.  The generosity, love and compassion that our community and the Acting Studio family (a true “family”) showed through nearly a year of Ella battling cancer goes unmatched.  We look forward to being part of this year’s fundraiser to help another family during this time of need.
– The Weaver Family

2016: To Ella, with Love, from Broadway

Here’s a recap of last year’s event from Southlake Style:

The fundraiser event “Once Upon a Time: To Ella, With Love, From Broadway,” was held on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, at Irving Arts Center to benefit 13-year-old Ella Weaver, a Carroll Middle School student who is battling Stage 3 Lymphoma. The show was produced in conjunction with Lyric Stage & the Acting Studio.

Preliminary reports show that more than 320 tickets were sold, and while totals and expenses are still being calculated, the silent auction did extremely well, according to Sarah Close, who was involved in making the event possible.

“We expect to present a check to the Weaver family for between $15,000 and $20,000 when everything has been added up,” Close said.

The host for the evening was Chad McCoy, a 20-year theater teacher at Carroll ISD. Also featured were several personal video messages sent to Ella from the current casts of almost every show on Broadway right now, including Matilda, CATS, Beautiful, School of Rock, On Your Feet, and many more.


Read the entire article here.