By Marion Filler
She teaches English to 6th graders at the Frelinghuysen Middle School.
“I think it will be nice for them to see me outside of my teaching role,” says Lefkovits, who has sampled many roles in her journey to the classroom, and to the stage of the Mayo Performing Arts Center on Feb. 27, 2019.
The one constant in her life has been music.
“I always had a connection to jazz. My father would sing Someone to Watch Over Me at bedtime,” says the Hopatcong resident, adding that her dad majored in music at college before becoming a banker.
An even stronger influence for Lefkovits was her grandmother.
“When my grandmother was growing up, she did a lot of community theater and eventually became a jazz singer. She and her band did gigs all over San Francisco. She’s pretty fantastic and doing well at 86.”
Surely, Lefkovits’ grandmother will approve of her Morristown Onstage song selection: God Bless the Child, a jazz standard co-written and recorded by Billie Holliday in 1941.
“There’s a soulfulness that Billie Holliday has. Growing up I wanted to look like her but sing like Barbra Streisand,”Lefkovits says.
She will compete against 14 other top amateur finalists from Greater Morristown. More than 50 acts auditioned for this 12th edition of the show, which aims to top last year’s record of $143,000 raised for local school programs.
The competition is open to performers who live, work or study in Morristown, Morris Township or Morris Plains, and to graduates of Morristown High School.
Before becoming a teacher, Lefkovits fancied being a pediatrician and worked as an EMT. But dealing with life-threatening situations, she discovered, was not for her.
“I realized I could never do that work with children,” Lefkovits says.
She took a year off from college, filled in at a clinic, tried a law office, and tutored.
“And then it all came together. I figured out that I wanted to be a teacher because it gave me the interaction with children that I was looking for.”
After graduating from college with a degree in literature, Lefkovits started a musical theater program for 8th graders at InTech Academy in the Bronx before coming to Frelinghuysen Middle School in Morris Township.
“It made the connection between English and music and completely changed the way they were. It gave them confidence,” she says of musical theater.
Lefkovits has done Improv with the Bergen County Players, appeared at the Rhino Theater in Pompton Lakes, and performed the role of Oda Mae Brown in Ghost the Musical.
Her 6th graders had no clue about their talented teacher until the Morristown Onstage tryouts in December.
You can bet they’ll be spreading the word in the weeks ahead.
Fifteen top amateur acts from Greater Morristown will compete for cash and glory in the 12th annual Morristown Onstage, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Tickets: $29-$79. Proceeds benefit the Morris Educational Foundation. Call 973-539-8008.