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'Music Man' Comes to Aldersgate Church

When Madalaine (Mim) Vander-Linden was 4, she got her first taste of the theater, appearing in a production of “HMS Pinafore.” She has had many more roles since then at Aldersgate Church Theater, Little Theatre of Alexandria, school, college and other local theaters. Some of the shows at Aldersgate were either produced or directed by her mother, Dru Vander-Linden.

This weekend, she will prove her talents in another way — as director of the Aldersgate Church Children's Theater's production of “The Music Man Junior.”

The play is the introduction of the Children's Theater at the church, adding to a 13-year tradition of adult theater there. Vander-Linden said that she's on the Arts and Drama Committee at the church. When they started talking about creating a children's theater that was youth-directed, she told them, "I always wanted to direct, I think I can do it."

Mim Vander-Linden's mother, Dru, couldn't be happier, and said "I'm very proud of her. We've had such positive response from the parents. There aren't enough young directors out there."

KRISTIN ALLARD, EBEN KUHNS, Kevin Gillingham and Chelsea Cook all have major roles in the production.

Gillingham, who plays Marcellus Washburn, said, "She [Vander-Linden] is a good director. Gillingham is an eighth-grader at St. Mary's Catholic Church. He has been in many other shows and said that he already knew some of the other actors. His favorite role was when he played the troll and dragon in a production of “The Hobbit.”

Chelsea Cook is a sixth-grader who is home-schooled; she plays Zaneeta Shinn. The cast has been rehearsing almost every day since Christmas, and Chelsea said, "I'm going to miss it when it's over; it's a fun group." Cook will soon be heading up to New York for an audition in a touring company.

Kristin Allard is one of the more seasoned performers. A senior at West Potomac, she plays Mrs. Paroo. "Mim is great with the kids. She does a lot of exercises with them."

THERE WILL BE ONLY three performances of the show: Saturday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 19, at 3 p.m.; and Monday, Feb. 20, at 3 p.m.

"I think it would be good to have more performances, but I think we'd be less full," said Allard.

Kuhns is also home-schooled and said, "I grew up on 'Music Man.'" He likes playing the character of Harold Hill. "This character has more personality than other characters I've played," he said.

In reflecting on her new role as director, Vander-Linden said, "It was a lot harder than I thought, getting 36 kids together. But it was also a lot more fun."