Western Springs girl takes lead role in ‘Madeline’s Christmas’
The cast goes a little crazy during rehearsals for "Madeline's Christmas" at the Theatre of Western Spring. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
IF YOU GO
What: Madeline’s Christmas
Where: Children’s Theatre of Western Springs, 4384 Hampton Ave., Western Springs
When: Nov. 30-Dec.9
Tickets: $15, $7 for 18 and younger
Reservations: (708) 246-3380 or theatreofwesternsprings.com
Updated: December 30, 2012 6:06AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — The Children’s Theater of Western Springs wishes everyone a Joyeux Noel.
Generations of children have drifted off to sleep to the stories that start with the words, “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.”
But there will be no sleeping when the story of “Madeline’s Christmas” comes to the stage at Theatre of Western Springs.
Leslie Price, children’s director at the theater, said this year’s holiday show isn’t just for children. It’s for everyone, including those with fond memories of the books by Ludwig Bemelmans.
“It’s based on the book that everybody knows and loves,” Price said.
For those unfamiliar, Madeline is a story about a Paris boarding school and the adventures of the girls who live there. The stage version of the tale includes songs to help tell the story.
Leading the young cast is 11-year-old Olivia Hart of Western Springs, who stars as Madeline. The McClure Junior High sixth-grader has sung in choirs and even in an onstage chorus, but never on her own or in front of such a large audience.
Olivia, who aspires to be a professional actress, said the spunky Madeline is a great way to get her start on stage.
“She’s really curious and full of adventure,” she said. “It’s really fun being Madeline.”
The family-friendly production also includes local cast members Bella Brizz of LaGrange Park; Meredith Jenkins, Lauren Pyne, Flynn Rachford, Mia Rachford, Taylor Schullo and Jane Stockbridge of Western Springs; Joe Mills of Westchester; Amanda Ragan of Burr Ridge; Helen Smith of Clarendon Hills and Matigan Smith of Hinsdale.
Price said it is Olivia’s own spunk that makes her right for the lead role.
The part of Madeline includes several solos, but Olivia’s favorite part of the show is a song sung by all 12 young actresses.
“My favorite song is ‘Joy of the Season,’” said Olivia. It is sung by the girls as they prepare to head home for the holidays.
Up until that time in the show the girls aren’t certain they will make it to their respective homes for Christmas. A bout of the flu puts their holidays in jeopardy, but as with any good Christmas story, a little magic is all it takes for everything to work out just fine.
“All of the magic that you see illustrated in the book we can bring to life on the stage, too,” Price said.
A little extra dose of magic will be included in Madeline’s Christmas Tea, a special event that will include games, treats and a visit from Santa. Madeline’s Christmas Tea will take place at 2 p.m. Dec. 1. Tickets, which must be purchased separately from the show, are $15.