in focus: Kolette Tetlow

After 501 shows and 15 months on the worldwide tour as Ivanka in the musical Once, Mt. Lebanon’s Kolette Tetlow is hitting the off-Broadway scene in a new musical, called Iowa. Kolette, 9, opens and closes the show with solos and, as in Once, is the only child in the production.

Her family, including Mom, Karly, 7-year-old Keaton and 4-year-old Korinne, have an apartment in Manhattan and are weaving homeschooling, piano lessons and fencing lessons around rehearsals. The show is running now through May but could be extended through June, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 West 42nd Street.

Dad Nate is holding down the fort here at home on Cherokee Place, but will be visiting New York every other weekend, and a few weeks during the run when he will have business in the city.

Karly gets the school curriculum from Markham for the two older children and teaches pre-school lessons for Korinne. Kolette had a tutor on the road for Once but in New York City, tutors are not provided, and child actors have the choice of attending New York City Schools or being homeschooled.

tetlow play
Kolette with co-workers.

Kolette will be acting alongside other stage veterans including Lee Sellers (A Time to Kill, West Side Story), Cindy Cheung, April Matthis, Annie McNamara, Karyn Quackenbush, Carolina Sanchez and Jill Schackner. The director is Ken Rus Schmoll.

Karly Tetlow describes Iowa as a quirky and unique show that’s “not for kids.” The story follows a teenager named Becca who leaves town with her mother who seeks to find the soulmate she met on Facebook. As a new show with a lot of buzz, it represents a great opportunity for Kolette, who also was a finalist for Broadway roles in Les Miserables, Matilda and Dr. Zhivago. “I think it will be a great experience for her,” Karly says.

Kolette plays two roles in the show. She opens as Young Becca, the main character as a child. Then she plays a separate character named Charlie later in the show.

Kolette is not the only member of the family who is interested in the stage and performance. Her two siblings now have agents and are going on auditions for gigs like commercials, cartoon voiceovers and theater. “They’re just learning so much about life and they’re getting so much closer,” Karly says.

Additionally, Iowa is not the only new production for the family. Karly and Nate are expecting their fourth child in May.

Although living in New York and homeschooling three children is challenging, it does not require the constant packing and unpacking of a tour. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s not for everyone. We definitely support her. This is what she was born to do.”

Tickets are $60 to $75 and are available at or 212-279-4200. Read our previous coverage about Kolette.