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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Last Fling Vocal Competition: 50 Years Ago and Today


DEBRA MORSE and AVA MORSE are pictured with voice, guitar and piano teacher JEANNE RIPSKY at 2015 Last Fling.

Special to PN
By Jeanne Ripsky

I recently attended the finals of the Last Fling vocal competition, one of the many amazing facets of Naperville Jaycee’s Last Fling. I was so impressed with the level of talent in all the age group categories. The finals on Sunday and the winner’s performances on the Main Stage on Monday are among the best kept secrets of the Fling.

It was especially exciting for me to watch this year since one of my voice students was in the finals and I was in the finals of the Last Fling 50 years ago.

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Ava Morse won the 12 and under age category. She is a third grader at Prairie School.

I have been working with Ava on voice, piano and guitar since she was five. Her theatre credits include Keely Gibson in “Billy Elliott” and young Cosette in “Les Miserables” (Drury Lane), Emily Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol” (Goodman Theatre) Young Emily Ann in the world premiere of “The Goddess” (The Artistic Home), Molly in “Annie” and Gretl in “Sound of Music” (Aurora Paramount).

morse singer
AVA MORSE on stage at Last Fling 2015

As a second grader, Ava had the privilege of performing the role of young Cosette at Drury Lane with Ivan Rutherford who played Jean Valjean in over 2,000 performances on Broadway.

After the performance I attended, he came into the lobby as I was talking with Ava. I believe he thought I was one of her family members as he told me Ava was “the best young Cosette I have worked with. She has incredible timing and excellent pitch,” and I should tell her voice teacher that she is doing a great job.

What a thrill for me when Ava said, “This IS my voice teacher!”

She recently went to New York for a call back audition for “Matilda.” This holiday season Ava will be performing the role of Jojo in “Seussical” at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre.

Her television credits include a recurring role as Emmy Whillhite in Chicago PD and an impressive list of commercial and voice-over credits. Clearly, this young lady is going places.

Visit avamorse.com for the latest happenings.

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PN Ombudsman
PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.


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