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Madeline's Christmas (2008)

a Holiday Musical
CATEGORY : CHILDREN
by Book & Lyrics by Jennifer Kirkeby, Music by Shirley Mier, Based on the stories of Ludwig Bemelmans

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 3274

SHOWING : December 13, 2008 - December 31, 2008

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

12 Little girls in a row walk the snowy streets of Paris in the Holiday Classic, mounted for the first time by Horizon Theatre.


CAST & CREW LIST
Producer Lisa Adler
Director Spring Mason
Choreographer Jeff McKerley
Music Director Spencer G. Stephens
Mrs. Murphy Theresa Cunningham
Miss Clavel Jessie Dean
Harsha Matt Nitchie
Harsha Winslow Thomas
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Twelve Little Girls
by Dedalus
Friday, January 9, 2009
4.0
To the plethora of Holiday Shows raining on us throughout December, let me welcome this charming gem, Horizon Theatre’s exercise in Gallic Sweetness, “Madeline’s Christmas,” based on the stories by Ludwig Bemelmans. This is a lively, tuneful, magical and sweet production, and I look forward to it in years to come.

To be sure, there are some aspects that would irritate the cynical grownup – plot/character inconsistencies, some cheesy (but fun) “magical” effects, and enough sweetness to send even the most sucrose-tolerant parent into a diabetic coma, to name the very few I can dredge up from my “critic’s bag of standards.” But, this production tackles the story with an energy and a sincerity that, for some reason, brings out the forgiveness in me, that makes me actually want to cheer it on.

It’s Christmastime in Paris, and all the girls in Miss Clavel’s boarding school have colds. Only the smallest girl, Madeline, is spared the flu, but only because she forgot to have her scarf washed. Madeline must take care of everyone, none of whom will now be able to go home for Christmas. One act of kindness to a freezing (magical) rug seller later, and the girls are cured and off to home on their flying carpets (don’t ask). Throughout all is a passel of tuneful songs and lively dances and traditional little red coats and tea carts that move under their own power and snowflakes tossed by girls in the front row and silhouetted flying carpets against the Paris sky and mouse puppets and surprise gifts. All the elements click, and all the audiences are going home happy, me and my own little mouse included.

Of course, the show’s primary asset is its cast of 12 talented and cute-as-a-mouse-whisker girls, all aged between 9 and 12, all bringing a professionalism to the stage that’s a joy to watch. The fact that Horizon was able to find 24 such youngsters (the show was “double-cast” to take some of the strain off parents) is even more remarkable. At the performance I saw (the final show on 12/31), the “Red Cast” was led by the curled and dimpled Ruthie Evans as Madeline. Ms. Evans is spunky and likable and sings like an angel. She also knows when to stay in the background, and when to upstage her grown-up co-stars. Those grown-ups (Jessie Dean as Miss Clavel, Theresa A. Cunningham as a nicely-over-the-top Mrs. Murphy, and Matt Nitchie (I think) as the magical Harsha) are also in fine form, treating their young co-stars as, well, co-stars rather than kids “in the way.” And, maybe it was excellent casting, but all the girls had real characters, not just “another cute face in the crowd” sameness.

So, when this production returns next year (and Horizon Director Jeff Adler assures me it will), if you have the choice between sitting at home with your young’n’s watching some lame Disney Channel exercise in Seasonal Parody or going Horizon-ward to watch twelve little girls charm the socks off cynical old Scrooges like me, well, all things considered, it’s an easy choice to make.

Bon année, mes amis!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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