Singers Rehearse Spring Show

Gail Nelli

Cheri Emahiser

The SaddleBrooke Singers are busy rehearsing upbeat jazzy tunes for their April 12 show. Titled Swingin’ On A Song, our incredible professional pianist, Sly Slipetsky, will accompany the singers.

While purchasing tickets for the April concert at the DesertView Performing Arts website,, do grab tickets for the March 2023 Variety Show production. Our own Gail Nelli, a veteran member of the SaddleBrooke Singers, is directing Pages from the Great American Songbook. It’s a song and dance concert of Broadway, Hollywood, and radio’s timeless standards showcasing many SaddleBrooke Singers. Performances are March 21 at 4 p.m. and March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

The Hi-Fi Played

As a child, Gail remembers her mother had the Hi-Fi going continuously “with her favorites: Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Barbra Streisand.” And her dad loved to sing, teaching his four daughters his favorite songs, and enrolling them in tap dancing, “so we could be the next Shirley Temples.” Family time included watching The Ed Sullivan Show, The Wonderful World of Disney, film musicals, and variety shows.

Gail’s first public recital occurred in kindergarten. She sang “I’m a Little Teapot” and “Little Miss Muffet.” In elementary school she sang with the adult church choir. “They did not have an adult who could reach those high notes for the more formal mass services, says Gail. “Neither can I now, LOL!” In high school she played her favorite lead role as Amalia Balash in She Loves Me, easily reaching the high-pitched notes in “Vanilla Ice Cream.” She also played percussion instruments in her school’s marching bands. “I loved performing!”

At SUNY Oswego Gail sang with symphonic and show choirs, worked on theatre productions, and as a senior, directed Edward Albee’s play, The American Dream. During her master’s program at the University of Buffalo she focused on theater technology training.

Her theater outlet experience as an adult included Geneseo Community Players along with the Festival Choir at SUNY Geneseo, where pieces such as Orff’s Carmina Burana with full orchestral accompaniment were performed.

A Lifetime Membership

Gail is a lifetime member of New York State Theatre Education Association, which from its 1984 inception has promoted theatre education in New York State’s K-12 schools. Members honored Gail with their Rod Marriott Award “for lifetime achievement in educational theatre.” She served as their board trustee for eight years, president for two years, and chair of the Rochester region until her retirement.

Homeowners here since 2002 the Nellis became Arizona snowbirds in 2006. Residents and natives of New York, the couple lives in the Genesee River Valley area near the town of Leicester. Together for 48 years, friends arranged for Gail to meet her future husband. A year and a half later, they married; soon after a son and daughter arrived.


Though retiring in 2002 after 32 years of teaching high school English and theater, Gail’s passion for theater continues. She currently teaches a series on composers titled “The Great American Songbook” for SaddleBrooke’s Institute for Learning in Retirement and acts as a theatre education consultant in New York and Arizona.