Melissa Leshchanka, a 1999 graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, portrays Emily Webb, the main character in “Our Town,” opening at Somerset Valley Players on Friday, June 8. The audience follows Emily from a young girl through her wedding and early death. “I am very excited about it because it’s my first lead role,” she says.
Leshchanka was practically raised in the theater by her mother, Tina Lee, who has been active in community theater for many years. Now living in Somerset, Lee is a bookkeeper for the Franklin Township Sewage Association. Melissa’s father, George Leshchanka, lives in Edison and is an underwriter for the Hartford Insurance Company.
Melissa has studied ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and acrobatics at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, Mercer College, and Maria’s School of Dance in Piscataway. An alto, Leshchanka has had vocal training at Stephen’s Voice Training and Mercer College. She has studied acting at Rider University and Mercer College.
Theater experience includes work as a choreographer, featured dancer, and actor in children’s theater productions. Since 2008 Leshchanka’s work has been mostly with Somerset Valley Players, Villagers Theater, Mystic Vision, and Kelsey Theater. She will be choreographing the children’s show “The Little Mermaid” with Somerset Valley Players in July.
Leshchanka received her associate’s degree in music science from Mercer Community College, and a bachelor of arts and teaching certification from Rider University in 2006. Her major was elementary education and theater arts.
When she’s not on stage Leshchanka is a preschool teacher for Princeton Meadow Preschool and Childtime in Hillsborough. She also teaches at Playhouse 22’s acting academy. Leshchanka is engaged to Joseph John Pinto III, a manager at Houlihan’s, and they are planning a wedding in 2013.
Her twin brother, Stephen, also active on stage, will play the role of Cousin Kevin in Mystic Vision Players’ upcoming production of “Tommy.” He is a field IT tech with BDE Computer Services. Their younger brother, Matthew, who graduated from Kane University last year, studies mixed martial arts, performs in community theater, and works for Wendy’s and Famous Dave’s.
Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama in three acts is set in the fictional town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, from 1901 to 1913. The play opened at McCarter Theater in 1938, went to Massachusetts, and then Broadway. It has been rewritten for radio, television, film, opera, and even a musical. Played on an almost bare stage in a 1930s theater, the Stage Manager breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience while telling the story of the town’s citizens and their routine lives.
— Lynn Miller
Our Town, Somerset Valley Players, 689 Amwell Road, Hillsborough. Friday to Sundays, June 8 to 24. 908-369-7469 or www.svptheatre.org