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Dorseyville student playing role in CLO's 'A Musical Christmas Carol'

| Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, 1:21 p.m.
Maddie Dick
Maddie Dick

An O'Hara Township 12-year-old has a named role in Pittsburgh CLO's production “A Musical Christmas Carol.”

Maddie Dick recommends both this production and the Dickens' story on which it is based. The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future make it easy to understand the moral, she says.

“You feel the changes with Scrooge as the ghosts guide him on the path. I like the end. It makes me happy,” Maddie says.

The production at the Byham, showing Dec. 9 to 23, is a perfect holiday tradition for the whole family. Maddie read the original Dickens' novel before she auditioned for the stage show.

“The music makes the message even more powerful.”

A live show is a memorable experience. Maddie was only five years old when she saw “Shrek, the Musical” on Broadway with her family. Now, for a birthday or special occasion, a show is mandatory.

Last year, Maddie went to New York and saw “Something Rotten,” “School of Rock, the Musical,” and “Hamilton.” The family summered with CLO shows, too.

“We're a big musical theater family,” Maddie says.

However, starting Dec. 1, the talented teen will be on the other side of the curtain when she starts rehearsals for the “Christmas Carol.” Maddie plays Belinda Cratchit, Tiny Tim's sister.

Rehearsals can be anywhere from one hour to six hours. Not everyone is called for every rehearsal.

Maddie will balance practice and performances with her classes at Dorseyville Middle School. There will be matinees during school time and evening performances, which mean getting off the stage after midnight.

“Schoolwork for (my family) is the most important thing. As long as I keep up my grades, I'll be able to keep up this schedule,” Maddie says.

And when the performances begin, Maddie will miss almost three weeks of classes. Her teachers have worked out ways of keeping up while performing.

Maddie says, “I started out with theater stuff at CLO about seven years ago. I fell in love with it. I want to work. I like to perform. I really like it.”

She has 23 roles on her resumé already. Her ultimate goal is Broadway. She has faith her hard work and preparation as a student in Pittsburgh will get her there.

Maddie takes classes at the CLO school three afternoons a week. These focus on acting and dancing. Once a week she takes vocal lessons. For the last five summers, she attended French Woods camp for three weeks to learn more.

Singing comes naturally to her. She feels more anxiety at auditions than she does on the stage. Her father, John, teases he held his breath when she sang the national anthem at a Pirates game.

Her first singing outside the family was with the Trinity United Church of Christ on Saxonburg Road. The support of the congregation nurtured her confidence, in her dad's opinion.

John and her mother, Tara Branstad, support Maddie and her sister, Noelle, 9, a gymnast. The pressure isn't from the adults though.

Maddie says, “I don't like messing up very much. I get angry at myself. I want to be good at what I do.”

Maddie is enthralled with live performance.

“There's no room for audio-tuning or editing. It's 100 percent natural and real. Eight shows a week, every week. Sounds so fun.”

Sharon Drake is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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