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Teen immerses self in acting camp

Student trains at Purple Rose Theatre Co.

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Jean Holden claps along as Drake Schlagheck, 13, sings in her home during a lesson. The songstress has been guiding the up-and-coming teen performer since he was 7.

The Blade/Lisa Bernheim
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TEMPERANCE -- Drake Schlagheck has the Great White Way in his sights.

The 13-year-old Temperance resident and Bedford Junior High School student performs for audiences on both sides of the Michigan/Ohio line.

An actor and singer, he has played in the Wizard of Oz at Bedford High School, Fiddler on the Roof with the Bedford Community Players, and Cheaper by the Dozen and High School Musical with the Monroe Community Players.

South of the state line, he has performed with his longtime voice instructor and mentor Jean Holden at the Mon Ami Winery in Port Clinton, the Andersons Market in Sylvania Township, and in downtown Toledo at Manhattan's and the late, lamented Murphy's Place jazz club.

Thanks to a scholarship, Drake is at the two-week summer Teen Intensive performing camp in Chelsea, Mich., at the Purple Rose Theatre Co., founded by movie and stage actor Jeff Daniels.

Drake has been working on voice and movement while taking instruction on audition techniques, monologues, scene work, and film acting.

Drake received the $500 scholarship from the Monroe Community Players. Called the William D. Smith and H. Marie Betrus Smith Scholarship Award, it is meant to improve the performing and acting skills of promising Monroe County entertainers.

Drake said he'd like to be a professional performer, but if it doesn't work out, he plans to stay active in community theater. He said he enjoys acting and singing and doesn't suffer from stage fright.

"I like getting in front of an audience. It doesn't make me nervous," he said.

Some of his favorite songs are "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," "Rollin,' " "Heartache Tonight," and "We Shall Be Free."

Ms. Holden said she has been teaching him shop skills such as the right way to hold a mic and the broader principle of how to be a total performer by connecting with an audience.

"I tell him not to be just a singer, but to get up there and say 'Hi' to everybody. I tell him he has to do that as well," she said.

Ms. Holden, who has been called Toledo's first lady of song during her 50-year singing career, considers Drake a protege. He is the youngest of a small, select group of young singers taken under her wing who accompany her to certain performances.

Drake started performing at age 4 and has been taking instruction from Ms. Holden since he was 7. Drake's mother, Allison Schlagheck, said the songstress has been an important part of Drake's life.

"She's been very supportive, and he's learned a lot from her," she said.

Ms. Holden, for her part, gives high marks to Drake's mother for the boy's development as a performer. Ms. Schlagheck has been picking him up in Chelsea during the week, then the two of them drive to Toledo for a lesson with Ms. Holden.

Drake too expresses gratitude to his mother. "Without her, I couldn't be doing any of this," he said.

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