Madeline Is Ten Years Old
The popular children's book is now an Atlanta theatrical tradition

By Lee Valentine Smith

The beloved family tradition, Madeline's Christmas returns to Horizon Theatre December 2-31. A festive treat for parents and children alike, families are invited to join Madeline and friends for a magical musical adaption of Ludwig Bemelmans' classic children's tale. Featuring 24 local girls performing alongside professional actors in collaboration with The Atlanta Children's Theatre Company, this merry production is a holiday classic for all.

Horizon co-artistic/producing director Lisa Adler has a multitude of responsibilities and this holiday season, she's overseeing the theater's two traditional favorites, The Santaland Diaries and Madeline's Christmas. INsite spoke with the effusive co-founder of Horizon as both companies were rehearing for the season.

With Santaland in its 19th season and Madeline's beginning its tenth year, you have two solid-and very different-theatrical traditions to juggle.

Yes, twenty-one years ago we were looking for a Christmas show and Santaland seemed to be the perfect choice. Then people started asking if we were going to a children's play for Christmas because, let's face it, Santaland isn't exactly for kids. But I thought, 'Oh my gosh, that's such a lot of work to develop a whole new program.' But I ran into Spring Mason who is an actress and director; she was doing Atlanta Children's Theater and we decided to do something together that would feature kids. So it came together as a partnership of our two companies. And the Madeline's Christmas play had only been around a short while at that time so we thought it would be a good fit.

Why did you select this particular show?

We chose it because it gives a lot of young women the opportunity to be onstage and there'd also be adult professionals in the cast to anchor it. The whole model was built around creating a theater for youth production that could endure. It would allow a lot of onstage time and maintain a quality that would make general audiences interested in it, too.

It's truly an ensemble-based production.

It is. There's lots of small roles for the actors to grow into. Then we kept doing it and now it's become kind of like our Nutcracker, an annual tradition. I think almost all of the kids who are in the cast this year saw it at some point as they were growing up so they have a great bond with it. But it's so important to keep the arts going with youth and every theater needs to do their part. We're doing that with Madeline's. It's building the next generation of artists and audiences.

Right, by building a tradition within the company.

Since this is the tenth year, we've had quite a few cast members. There's 24 girls in the show, alternating two casts of 12, with an age range of 8 to 12 and they're from all over the Atlanta area. Every year we have a few who return and that leads to continuity and a real community. It also creates an educated, informed and truly wide variety of cast and audience.

Tell us about the show.

It's just a sweet show about the joy and magic of Christmas. It's based on the classic children's books that most little girls read as they're growing up, featuring the character Madeline, of course. There's magic, with a flying carpet that takes the kids on a ride around Paris and then back home to their parents for Christmas. If you come with a child-like holiday spirit, you'll love it no matter how old you are. It's the magic of theater and the wonder of youth in a fun little show.



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