In what is becoming a delightful Christmas tradition, Creative Cauldron reprises their holiday production of Madeline’s Christmas. The lighthearted musical is based on the beloved books by Ludwig Bemelmans, which famously start: “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.” Book and Lyrics for the adaptation are by Jennifer Kirkeby and Music is by Shirley Mier.
Each of those 12 little girls is a student actor in Creative Cauldron’s Musical Theater Training Program. But, despite their youth, these budding artists carry themselves with the presence and professionalism of veteran actors.
Seasoned director Matt Conner conducts this delightfully fun production, with choreography by Stephen Gregory Smith and musical direction by Stephen Crisp.
The show begins with the company number “Madeline,” introducing the young girls as they flit about the stage and rotate in and out of their “two straight lines.”
Anna Philips-Brown plays Miss Clavel, the nun in charge of caring for the girls. She takes them to the zoo where Madeline, played by Lara Rosata, displays her bravery and precociousness by getting too close to the lion and scratching his chin.
Rosata is full of spunk as the energetic and lively Madeline, and Philips-Brown as Clavel is the perfect blend of maternal concern and admiration for Madeline.
Animals of the zoo are portrayed with gorgeous puppets and an adorable monkey costume (Leah Tysse, Maya Johnson, and Nora O’Sullivan), all designed by the multitalented Scenic, Puppet, and Costume Designer Margie Jervis.
Unfortunately, when the group returns home, Miss Clavel realizes they have brought an unwelcome sickness back with them. With the song “Achoo,” the girls sneeze in synchronization, rendering a lesson on the history of the Eiffel Tower, by Monsieur Brun (Chris Rios), unsuccessful in hilarious fashion.
The entire household falls ill, including Miss Clavel and housekeeper, Mrs. Murphy (Laura Connors Hull). All except Madeline, of course, who was the only one to remember to wear her yellow scarf on the outing.
When her fellow students become too sick to return home for Christmas, Madeline attempts to comfort the girls by reading “Twas A Night Before Christmas” as they nod off to sleep in their row of beds.
A seemingly disappointing ending to what’s meant to be a joyous holiday. But then arrives the rug seller, Harsha, also played by Chris Rios. At first appearing to be your average run-of-the-mill salesman, Harsha reveals his knack for all things magical with the number, “Abracadabra.”
Accentuated with enchanting light design (James Morrison) and his Magician’s Helpers (Leah Tysse, Maya Johnson, and Nora O’Sullivan) Rios shows how his magical ring can restore Madeline’s friends to health in time to enjoy Christmas Day. But that is not the end of the 12 little girls’ adventures.
Throughout the musical, Philips-Brown as Clavel exudes kindness and a genuine love for her charges. And the girls equally adore her. The entire show is frankly a love fest of charity, goodwill, and affection, which stands as a wonderful example that such things are possible and valued in a day and age where negativity and hatred are prevalent.
Madeline’s Christmas is a show full of beautiful music, fantastic puppetry, and uplifting performances, with the message that good deeds bring warm hearts.
Creative Cauldron’s production is suitable for ages four and up, and a great family outing option for those with young children or a taste for nostalgia and simple joy.
Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.
Matt Conner (Director), Stephen Mark Crisp (Music Director), Stephen Gregory Smith (Choreography), Margie Jervis (Scenic/Costume/Puppet Design), James Morrison (Lighting Design)
Cast: Anna Phillips-Brown (Miss Clavel), Chris Rios (Monsieur Brun/Harsha), Laura Connors Hull (Mrs. Murphy), Lara Rosata (Madeline), Abby Fred (Dominique), Gabriella Modine (Amy), Armine Heard (Juliette), Sophie Schmittel (Mary), Bevin Mills (Isabelle), Mai Gabra (Regine), Peyton Rydzewski (Camille), Marianne Meade (Anne), Sophie Silva (Simone), Carmen Ortiz (Kate), Penelope Levy (Daphne), Leah Tysse (Ensemble), Maya Johnson (Ensemble), and Nora O’Sullivan (Ensemble)