Wheeling Aerialist To Return For Symphony Fundraiser
WHEELING — After traveling around the world and entertaining international audiences, Wheeling native Megan Wilson is bringing her high-flying act to her hometown.
Wilson and her husband, Andy Parrish, will present two shows as a benefit for the Wheeling Symphony. Performances will be staged at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Capitol Theatre, 1015 Main St.
Performing together as Duo Quintessence, the aerial and acrobatic duo has created a cirque-style production.
“We combine elements of strength and flexibility. We do floor balancing moves combined with high-flying aerial acts as well,” Wilson said.
The talented couple has been working as an aerial duo for over two years. Their aerial skills are self-taught.
Relating the origins of Duo Quintessence, she said, “We both started our careers as dancers. We met in 2011 and we continued to dance on cruise ships until the end of 2015.
“At the end, we decided to take some time off and put our show together. It took us a year and a half to put the show together,” she said.
They present their shows on international cruise ships, including the Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Princess lines, and travel to various locations worldwide. “We have the chance to work all over the place,” she said.
Their upcoming appearance at the Capitol represents “the first time performing our full show on land. It’s kind of exciting,” she remarked.
The land-based stage is about the same size as nautical performance spaces. Some ships’ stages have very little height, she said, but added, “We’ve also performed in a venue as high as 60 feet. The Capitol is about average for what we do.”
The fundraiser for the Wheeling Symphony was suggested by Wilson’s aunt, Julie Blust, who is a member of the orchestra’s board of directors.
“She (Blust) had seen us do a big rehearsal. It was her idea to give us a chance to perform in Wheeling,” Wilson said.
The performers jumped at the opportunity and were happy “to donate our time and benefit a great cause,” she said.
Wilson, daughter of Dr. Daniel and Cheryl Wilson of Wheeling, began taking dancing lessons at age 3 at Dance Dimensions in Wheeling. She continued to dance while attending Wheeling Central Catholic High School and was on West Virginia University’s dance team for a year while enrolled as a forensic chemistry major.
During her freshman year at WVU, she accompanied a friend — on a whim — to an audition at Point Park University in Pittsburgh for Royal Caribbean. After that audition, she was offered a position as a dancer in one of the cruise line’s productions. She left school and began working for Royal Caribbean in 2007.
Wilson’s sister, Nicole, also has performed as a dancer for Royal Caribbean.
“Dance has always been a part of my life, but I never imagined it would become my career,” Wilson commented.
Likewise, Parrish, who is from London, England, remarked, “I had not thought about leaving the country, let alone work on cruise ships. I took an audition. I fell in love with traveling.”
Parrish began dancing at age 6. He attended Havering College for two years, then obtained a full scholarship for a three-year musical theater course at Bird College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2009.
That year, he started dancing on cruise ships in Royal Caribbean’s production of “Hairspray, The Musical.” He met Wilson in 2011 in rehearsals for the Splendour of the Seas. They were paired as ballroom partners and members of the Centrum Wow aerial cast.
Wilson gives credit to “both sets of our parents. We couldn’t have done this without them. We lived with them, they supported us, for a year and a half. They are our number-one fans and our audience.”
Since developing their own 45-minute show, Wilson and Parrish are still performing on cruise ships.
“The show is completely 100 percent ours,” Parrish explained. “We chose all the music and the video content in the middle. We designed the costumes. It is our production.”
Performing their own show “is definitely a lot more fulfilling” than appearing as part of an ensemble. “When audiences are applauding and standing, it’s definitely for you,” he said.
“In other productions, it’s their design, their ideas. You are part of the ensemble,” he said. “It’s our show from start to finish. We’re pretty proud of it.”
Wilson added, “We’re excited to share our production with a Wheeling audience. We hope everyone comes out to support the symphony and the arts.”