Thank you to everyone who contributed to this weekend’s successful Home for the Holidays event! We raised nearly $26,000 to help Prevent Homelessness in this community! Click on the collage to see more pictures from the weekend.
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(A full version of this story can be found on MOM’s blog.)
In its sixth year running, the annual performance of Home for the Holidays brings old-time radio to the stage of Middleton Performing Arts Center to benefit Middleton Outreach Ministry’s (MOM) efforts to prevent homelessness in the West Madison and Middleton area. It also gives audiences a sneak peek of the stage talents of veteran actress Leslie Esser-Reitano.
Leslie is many things to many people. Mom. Wife. Partner. Actress. Teacher. Mentor. Yogi. But one of her many labels that people may not realize: survivor. From suffering debilitating health set-backs during her many years of acting, Leslie understands what it’s like to struggle, adding to her sympathy and open heart approach to the work she and her production company do for MOM.
With a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and more than 25 years of acting on both coasts, Leslie’s experiences range from stage, cabaret, recording, commercials and television. She even taught at the prestigious Musical Theatre, Pop and Opera programs at the Los Angeles High School For Performing Arts during her time on the West Coast. But life hasn’t been all glitz and glam for this seasoned actress. Suffering multiple misdiagnosed health issues repeatedly sent her back to her native Middleton for recovery. She would later be diagnosed with Lymphoma. However, through perseverance and a driving passion, she made a complete recovery and continues to flourish while balancing her energy on health, family, and the craft she loves.
A few years ago, Leslie and her production partner at the time, Katrina Brunner, wanted to extend a helping hand in their community by putting on performance with their company, Sycamore Street Ensemble. When Leslie and Katrina approached MOM, they were overwhelmed by their passion and enthusiasm to team up. Now the partnership with MOM has blossomed into a flourishing relationship with the common effort of helping those in need.
“The amazing thing about MOM is that you don’t have to look far to do something to help,” she says. “The show became ‘Home for the Holidays’ because it really embodies what MOM represents. Not everyone has a home during the holidays, but MOM does everything they can to make sure people in our community are taken care of. And MOM is really their home.”
On Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9, audiences can experience the magic of the holidays with Heartline Theatricals, Leslie’s new entertainment production company she created with her husband Tony, hits the stage and gives an all-out performance from the bottom of their hearts.