Nine-year-old Eli Tokash of Weirton is playing a leading role in the national tour of Disney's hit Broadway musical, "Mary Poppins," being staged at the Benedum Theatre in Pittsburgh.
Eli, son of P.J. and Jennifer Tokash of Weirton, portrays Michael Banks, one of the two young children that are featured throughout the production. Area theater fans have a chance to see him in that role during the final Pittsburgh performance at 6:30 p.m. today, Oct. 21.
The touring production opened at the Benedum Theatre Tuesday, Oct. 16. A total of eight performances were planned at the Benedum, with Eli performing four times, including opening night and today's final show, family members said.
Eli's debut performance as Michael Banks in "Mary Poppins" took place in Los Angeles Aug. 28. "He feels extremely blessed to be on tour with 'Mary Poppins' where he will have the opportunity to perform in 25 cities throughout the United States and Canada," said his grandfather, Dr. Eli Dragisich of Weirton.
Eli is a fourth-grade student at St. Joseph's Elementary School in Weirton. He is the grandson of Paul and Donna Tokash and Eli and Sharon Dragisich.
Family members said that Eli played the role of Tiny Tim in the Pittsburgh CLO's production of "A Musical Christmas Carol" for the past three years. He and his sister, Tessie, appeared in productions of "Oliver" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Benedum Theatre.
His film credits include a short film, "Anywhere But Here," and a feature film, "Blood Ties," scheduled for release in early 2013. He also has been featured in local and national television commercials.
His grandfather said Eli credits his sister for inspiring him to become involved in musical theater. When Eli was 6 years old, he watched Tessie perform as one of the orphans in the Broadway musical, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," at the Benedum Theatre.
After Tessie's performance, Eli told his parents, "I want to do that." They enrolled him in a two-week summer program at the Pittsburgh CLO that introduces children to musical theater. Shortly after attending the program, he auditioned and won the role of Tiny Tim in "A Musical Christmas Carol."
"Eli also credits his sister and his brother, Zak, both of whom were members and performers of the Pittsburgh CLO Mini-Stars, for introducing him to the performing arts and for continuously helping him to learn more about the thrill and enjoyment associated with musical theater and acting," his grandfather said.
Courtney Yeager of St. Clairsville was elected homecoming queen at Muskingum University in New Concord Saturday, Oct. 13.
Yeager is the daughter of Lisa and Jack Hirschbach. She is a political science major with a history minor. On campus, she is treasurer of Alpha Sigma Alpha and a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, the wind ensemble and the marching band.
Two Wheeling students were selected as homecoming queen and king at West Liberty University.
Junior Riley Lynn Bonar, an elementary education major, and sophomore Billy Castilow, a criminal justice major, were crowned Saturday, Oct. 13.
Linda Comins can be reached via email at: Comins@news-register.net