By Jill Fox
At just nine-years-old, Parkland resident Emily Jewel Hoder was living her dream on the national Broadway tour of Les Miserables when COVID-19 cut it short.
For about two-and-a-half months, Emily was on the road playing Little Cosette in the musical with her mother and five-year-old sister, Sunny, in tow.
“We were sent home in March,” said Emily’s mother, Caroline, “and then the show was officially canceled a few months later.”
Now in fourth grade, Emily attended Riverglades Elementary until she went on tour. Then, Caroline chose to keep her in Florida Virtual School when they returned to Parkland.
Before starring in Les Mis, Emily made her professional theatrical debut at seven-years-old in Annie alongside Sally Struthers in The Wick Theatre’s production. She had never been in a show before, and that started her career.
During quarantine, she used the time at her home in Mayfair to hone her singing, dancing, and acting skills.
A professional ballerina from the New York City Ballet taught free classes, and Caroline suggested that Emily give it a try. Soon after, Emily was featured on Tyler Peck’s live Instagram feed.
“It was a really cool silver lining of the pandemic,” Caroline said. “Emily was so excited.”
In June, Emily performed with four adults in her first live Cabaret show at The Wick Theatre, where the audience was limited, with a small number of tables spread out in the lobby. Actors stayed 12 feet apart from one another and wore masks, except when singing.
Emily said she wants to inspire other kids. “It’s so easy to give up. You have to push yourself and keep going.”
She was recently cast in Payton’s Caper, filming locally, and a music video for an Israeli singer.
She is currently busy preparing for the theatre’s first show back in the auditorium on December 18 while adhering to strict COVID-19 precautions in a holiday review called Oh What Fun, a compilation of all traditional holiday songs with a lot of tap dancing.
There will be ten performers, the maximum allowed under equity Covid rules, and seating at 25 percent capacity.
Emily said she is happy to be on a stage looking at people again and seeing that bright light.
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.