Singing with the Stars

May 24, 2019

Local celebrities to perform in annual ‘Singing with the Stars’ talent competition

by Myah Gary

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Community superstars are taking to the stage this June to compete in the light-hearted and entertaining “Singing with the Stars” competition. Hosted by the Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse, the annual “no-talent required” competition includes musical acts by a local CEO, a doctor, a director and more.

Gearing up for a summer of entertainment

The fun starts on June 7 at 7 p.m. at the McLeod Theater. The McLeod board provides wine and soft drinks, while appetizers are by Hunan and desserts from Lipe Orchards.

McLeod Theater is located in the Communications Building at 1100 Lincoln Drive on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus.

The McLeod Summer Playhouse, Southern Illinois' only professional theater company, produces incredible productions of popular musical theater. This year MSP will perform "The Full Monty," "Gypsy," and, for young audiences, "Polkadots."

In collaboration with Carbondale Community Arts (CCA), MSP will provide an opportunity for high school students to perform in a professionally designed and staffed theater production. This year's all Southern High School production will be "The Drowsy Chaperone."

These splendid performances are made possible with backing from the Southern Illinois community. Singing with the Stars is a wonderful opportunity to support the arts programs provided by MSP.

Six local stars compete for the title

This year, for Singing with the Stars, six eager performers are endeavoring to earn the coveted title of "McLeod Summer Playhouse Star of the Year."

Performers include:

Tina Carpenter

Tina Carpenter is the Chief Executive Officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Illinois (Formerly Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale). She has been with the organization for 10 years, selected as the CEO in November of 2017.

Best known for her passion for her family and all children, it is not unusual to hear Tina referred to as “Mama Tina” by current and former employees and volunteers, as she fosters that family atmosphere wherever she is. 

She is a member of the Carbondale Lion’s Club, Carbondale Breakfast Rotary and an Ambassador for the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce.

She loves to cook, garden, raise chickens and spend time outdoors. She is immensely proud of her adult children Emily and Denali and young granddaughter Eva. She and the love of her life, Bill, enjoy being empty nesters and breed and raise snakes.   

Neil Voss

Neil Voss of Murphysboro is the co-owner of Voss Heating and Air Conditioning. Voss Heating and Air Conditioning is a second-generation family owned company that has been in business for over 46 years. The company is a proud sponsor of WSIU radio.

Neil enjoys being active within the community. Currently he is the logistics chairperson for the Murphysboro Apple Festival and often supports both youth and high school athletics.

Neil is married to Angelia Voss, also of Murphysboro. Together they have three beautiful children who keep them busy with baseball, softball, volleyball, football and dance, just to name a few.

Neil's hobbies include fishing and attempting to learn different musical instruments like the drums, guitar and trombone. Neil also has a love for cooking, especially barbecuing. After a lengthy hiatus, Neil, along with some of his long-time friends, have begun competing in barbeque contests again.

He is very excited to be a part of the 2019 singing with the stars cast.

Ashley Wright

Ashley Wright has been the Director of Special Event Ticketing for SIU, serving patrons of the arts and McLeod Summer Playhouse, for over ten years. Though a Southern Illinois native, Ashley spent much of her childhood in California and Washington. She is a proud alumnus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

Ashley has two children, Nevaeh, age 12, and Noah, age 9. Her last stage performance was at her 7th grade talent show, where she lip-synced to Madonna. She has asked us to keep EMTs on standby for when she falls on her face.

Aur Beck

Aur ‘da energy mon’ Beck is owner of Advanced Energy Solutions. He has been installing solar for the past 20 years. Aur is an energy efficiency advocate and is double NABCEP Certified.

He is both a founder and board member of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association.

Aur has a weekly radio talk show, “Your Community Spirit” on WDBX 91.1. Aur believes strongly in giving back. Within his Native American tradition there is a belief that "you are supposed to give presents on your birthday and anniversaries to the ones who helped you."

Aur considers his role in Singing with the Stars as a small way of giving back.

Ryan Gurley

Ryan Gurley is a Carbondale native and attended Carbondale schools.

Already earning his MBA, he is also working to complete his Doctorate in Business Administration. Currently, Ryan works as the Director of Marketing and Administration for Prairie Living.

Ryan has one son, Ethan, and a partner, Jeremy Freeman. Ryan’s daily goal is to "make you smile." He lives by his life's motto "never forget to plan your work and work your plan."

Jason Liang

Jason Liang was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There, you would be more likely to find him on the football field rather than a stage.

He continued his pursuit of higher education at Baylor University. From there, he pursued his dreams of becoming a physician at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. It was at Rosalind Franklin where he would eventually meet his wife Katie Rush.

Upon completing his residency, Liang was recruited to SIH where he and Katie are now practicing as podiatrists and foot and ankle surgeons.

He has lived in Carbondale for two years. Jason has a passion for finding good local restaurants and exploring Southern Illinois. 

Audience focused

The audience determines the winner of the competition with donations to McLeod Summer Playhouse. Every dollar donated by cash or check counts as one vote.

Checks made payable to the SIU Foundation are tax deductible, as allowed by law.

Tickets on sale now

Get your tickets now for Singing with the Stars. The activities of the evening are in support of the McLeod Summer Playhouse. General admission is $35.00.

All tickets are available by phone, online, in person or by mail. Some fees apply:

  • By phone at 877-SALUKIS (877-725-8547).
  • Online at
  • In person at SIU Arena, Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. or McLeod Theater box office, Mon-Fri., noon-4:30 pm one hour before each performance.
  • By mail to: SIU Ticket Office, Lingle Hall - Mail Code 6620, 1490 Douglas Drive, Carbondale, IL, 62901.