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Lip Sync to cure leukemia PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 10 February 2018 16:25

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ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



In the fall of 2013, Liberal resident Ruby Terrazas was told the devastating news that her mother, Chela, had been diagnosed with leukemia.

Elyse Molstad had moved to Liberal several months prior to work at Southern Pioneer Electric, where she met Ruby, and the two became fast friends.

Molstad remembers being when Ruby got the call that her mom was sick.

“I knew in my gut it was serious,” Molstad said. “My own mom had passed away from cancer in 2005, and my heart sank to watch my friend receive news like that.”

Molstad said she and Ruby were with Chela in Chicago and used humor to cheer her up and make her laugh.

Chela would eventually move to Liberal with Ruby, where the two friends grew closer to the mother.

Molstad now lives in Savannah, Ga., and the humor she and Ruby used with the elder Terrazas would extend into work Molstad now does with comedy performances in her spare time.

Molstad was approached by the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Savannah to see if she would consider performing in the organization’s fundraiser, the Lip Sync Battle.

That was the first year of the event, and after an initial performance, Molstad admitted she needed to clean some things up to improve on what was already a great performance for this year’s Lip Sync Battle.

“When I picked my song, there’s a guy who has a cameo in it, so it’s almost like a duet but not,” she said. “It’s a Shakira song, and she has Wyclef come in and do a part of the song. The song would not have been made without Wyclef in it.”

The song Molstad picked to do was a humorous rendition of Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie,” and in addition to picking the song, she decided to make the performance more meaningful by dedicating it to Chela, remembering Ruby’s son, Brandyn Terrazas, who had a classmate from Liberal High School, Cedric Mitchell, who lived in Jacksonville, Fla., not far from Savannah and currently pursuing a career in acting.

Molstad, a former board member of Liberal’s Rainbow Players, recalled seeing Mitchell’s talent at several shows in Liberal and reached out to him through social media and told him her idea to dedicate the performances to Brandyn’s grandma.

“I thought, ‘Who do I know who’s super talented and would get on board?’” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh Cedric,’ and he lives not far away. We could do this for Brandon and Ruby in memory of their mom and grandma. I was really excited when Cedric said he wanted to do it.”

Needless to say, Molstad said Mitchell was all in with the plan.

“He didn’t even hesitate. He said, ‘Absolutely, count me in,’” she said. “That was really cool, and I kept thinking ‘Oh man, is this really going to happen?’ We pulled it off, and he did awesome. Just knowing why we were there and who we were dancing for and in memory of and for the greater cause of doing it to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was fantastic.”

The Shakira number was just the first round of the Lip Sync Battle competition, and Molstad said she could not have pulled it off without the help of Mitchell. She said speaking and performing come natural to her, and for her, they are also a way to help her feel closer to her own mother, who died in 2005.

Molstad likewise said performing comedy to help an organization raise money adds to her motivation to continue to do it.

“I have a full-time job,” she said of the job she now has working as a brand marketing manager for Boundless Network. “It’s not money that motivates me. I do it because I feel like it’s a gift I’ve been given, and to not share it, what’s the use? To share it in a positive way, that’s even better.”

Molstad has done stand-up at several comedy clubs, and she has likewise done shows here in Kansas. This is just the beginning of her work in humor.

“I do stand-up comedy,” she said. “I do performance comedy. I guess I don’t really have a favorite form yet. I love lip sync because I’ve been doing that my whole life. Now, there’s just an organization to it and a stage for it rather than in your bathroom mirror.”

Molstad said having Mitchell on board with her Lip Sync Battle routine made her feel as though she could breathe again.

“I was very anxious,” she said. “I’m a perfectionist, so I wanted everything to be perfect. To have Cedric with his expertise, he came up the day before and stayed with me, and we hammered out the details of the lighting, how we enter the stage, how we exit the stage. It was just nice to have somebody to bounce ideas back and forth from. He’s a great dancer and choreographer. Beyonce’s dance moves are not easy, and so, he helped me choreograph the Beyonce part of my medley. It was just like once he was there and we hammered everything out, I felt like it allowed me to be more excited than nervous.”

With Molstad and Mitchell both being from Liberal, this made the move from Southwest Kansas to Georgia a little easier for both.

“Cedric and I both talked about how nice it was to see a familiar face,” Molstad said. “It’s just a really refreshing thing. It almost feels like a little bit of home in that person.”

Seeing a familiar face from a familiar place, Molstad said, also created an instant bond for she and Mitchell.

“We know the same people,” she said. “We’ve done the same things. It was just really nice to get to connect and have somebody from home that’s not so far away from you.”

Team Elyse ended up taking home the award for Best Comedy Performance, and Mitchell said the night was a lot of fun.

“It was very different for me because I’ve never lip synced before,” he said.

In college, Mitchell was a musical theater major, and he does many live performances.

“I perform at church and different events, so for me to get up there and not actually sing the words, it was fun,” he said. “It was different. It was very different, but I had a blast doing it.”

As with Molstad, dedicating the performance to Ruby’s mother was very personal for Mitchell as well.

“It was more than just some performances,” he said. “I love to perform, but the fact that I was affected in a way personally.”

Mitchell said he considers Brandyn a brother and Ruby a mother, which made the performance even more personal.

“To know that they loss somebody close to them, it just made it more meaningful for me, not only for that family, but all the families that have struggled with this just in general,” he said.

Mitchell began performing at the age of 3 and has been doing it ever since.

“Anytime I can share my gift with somebody or share what I am doing to an audience, that’s big for me,” she said. “I live for that.”

So when Molstad called, Mitchell said he was definitely on board with his fellow Liberal performer.

“I changed my schedule at work and everything,” he said.

Mitchell said his performing includes many talents, including acting, singing and dancing.

“I want to do it all,” he said.

Molstad’s Shakira and Mitchell’s Wyclef were joined on stage by professional belly dancers and hula hoopers for the number. When Mitchell saw Molstad’s outfit, he was instantly impressed.

“When I saw her, I immediately said, ‘If you don’t win an award, something is wrong,’” he said. “The time, the effort, the subtle touches that led to this performances, it was amazing, and I was actually very humbled and excited and overjoyed to be a part of that with her.”

Mitchell said Molstad came with her A game the night of the Lip Sync Battle.

“She definitely put her time into this,” she said. “She was amazing.”

While Molstad gave Mitchell much credit for the success of the routine, he said the Shakira part of the act played a bigger role.

“She did everything,” he said. “I was just like a piece of the puzzle. She had everything planned out. Elyse had this planned out. I just kind of came and tweaked it a little bit, and we just had a lot of fun.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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