Sutter Street stage gets into holiday mood

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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In The Know
Sutter Street Theatre
It’s Christmastime on Sutter Street – a roundup of holiday shows
“Holiday in the Hills” – Nov. 30-Dec. 23
“Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings” – Dec. 13-31
“Madeline’s Christmas” – Dec. 8-30
Check website for dates and times
Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom

If there’s one thing that’s going on, it’s the excited feeling that only the holidays can bring. And that feeling is very much alive in the fun, holiday-themed shows that Sutter Street Theatre has on tap, beginning this Friday.

If you enjoy Folsom’s storied past, or just love to have a good time, “Holiday in the Hills,” a show that Connie Mockenhaupt and Mike Jimena, the company’s artistic director and operations director, have written and re-vamped over the years, showcases the lives of people who actually lived in Folsom in the 1800s.

“This is our seventh year and audiences come from all around the state,” Mockenhaupt said. “A group from London also attends our show each year – they just love it.”

The musical numbers and choreography are different each year – Santa’s Boot Scoot Boogie is one of Mockenhaupt’s new favorites, but the message is always the same; An old-fashioned holiday where larger-than-life characters act scenes that are meaningful during this special time of year.

With plenty of great music that can be described as a mix of traditional and contemporary, people love this show and come back year after year. They especially love the audience-participation portions.

If you’re ready to enjoy even more outstanding holiday music, you’ll love “Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings.” The Off-Broadway show is filled with Christmas standards that have been “plaid-erized” according to Mockenhaupt. With a plotline that includes characters that have returned from the dead – in a good way, Mockenhaupt describes the show as filled with music from the 50s era.

“It’s just beautiful. The show makes you feel so good,” she said.

And if one show will make you feel good, then seeing all three will make you feel great.

“Audience members will definitely see at least two shows, and possibly all three,” said Allen Schmeltz, Sutter Street’s assistant artistic director, and the director in charge of “Madeline’s Christmas.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Madeline, the story is set in Paris around the turn of the century.

“The show is based on the children’s story book – it’s a real Christmas favorite for kids,” Schmeltz said. “The story is actually based on a book insert that appeared in the 1956 McCalls Christmas issue. The actual book wasn’t published until the mid 80s.”

But seemingly, everyone knows Madeline and her old house in Paris covered with vines, where lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.

“The show is just a delight,” Schmeltz said. “The cast is so cohesive, and includes live music with accompanist, Chris Schlagel, and leading lady, Lauren Metzinger, both who have worked with the Music Circus.”

Schmeltz said that kids love Madeline, but parents and grandparents might love the character even more.

“The adults have grown up with Madeline,” he said.

Great music, great characters and great nostalgia – the shows are all based on the “spirit of the holiday,” according to Schmeltz, and they are all family friendly – real treats that will fill you with holiday spirit and more.