‘Madeline’s Christmas’ delights

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Madeline’s Christmas, the Stages Theatre Company’s lively musical for children and their families, opened at the Hopkins Center for the Arts on November 16. It is a magical story of Christmas seen through the eyes of twelve little girls who have fallen ill, all except for one—Madeline. On Christmas Eve, Madeline receives a gift from an unexpected visitor and that leads to an enchanting adventure and life lessons for the girls.

A delightful Twin Cities seventh grader, Elaine Patterson, infuses Madeline with energy, excitement and joy. Elaine believes that Christmas is the greatest time of year and she couldn’t imagine spending Christmas without being with her family. “Christmas is about love, and this play is about love. I would definitely want people to walk away with a feeling of love,” says Elaine.

Madeline’s Christmas, presented by Stages Theatre Company, is playing at the Hopkins Center for the Arts through December 30. For tickets, call 952-979-1111 or see the company’s Web site.

Elaine auditioned twice at Stages for the part of Madeline. “I was so happy when I heard that I got the part that I hugged my Mom and then started jumping up and down,” Elaine reminisced about the afternoon when she came home from school and received the news from her mom. “I was so excited that I could hardly wait to start rehearsal.”

This is Elaine’s first show with Stages Theatre Company. She has previously performed at the Children’s Theatre Company in Average Family, Seussical, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Pippi Longstocking. Prior to acting, Elaine had been a dancer for seven years: “a very long time,” she reflects, until she decided that “I really, really like acting. I definitely want to keep on acting. It’s very fun, and working with adults prompts me even more.”

Director Mary Keepers and music director Melissa Brunkman lead the talented cast. The play is based on the book by Ludwig Bemelmans and was created for Stages Theatre Company by local playwright Jennifer Kirkeby and composer Shirley Mier in 2004.

Kirkeby also performs in the play in the role of Miss Clavel, a teacher and friend of the girls’ at the boarding school they attend. Under Miss Clavel’s tutelage, the girls are encouraged to expand their horizons. Kirkeby’s generous warmth with the girls also comes across to the audience.

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