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The faces of Madeleine Delaplane

Veteran Tigard teen set to appear in 'A World War II Radio Christmas'
by: Mikel Kelly In December Madeleine Delaplane holds multiple roles in “A World War II Radio Christmas,” a production of Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Young Professionals program.

At the ripe old age of 16, Madeleine Delaplane is already a veteran actress.

She's been appearing on stage for more than a decade. Her first part ever was as Dorothy in 'The Wizard of Oz' at age 5 - but her big break-out role was Iago in 'Aladdin' later that same year.

Her resume was already bulging - with parts in productions at Northwest Children's Theater, Beaverton Civic Theatre, Broadway Rose Theatre Company in Tigard, Wilsonville Theater Company, ComedySportz and the Village Home Education Resource Center - before she landed her latest acting gig.

Next weekend, when the curtain rises on 'A World War II Radio Christmas,' at Oregon Children's Theatre, the Tigard teenager will add another half-dozen characters to her curriculum vitae.

One of eight young performers in the holiday-themed production - all of them hold down multiple roles - Delaplane brings a full set of skills to the stage. She acts, sings, dances, even does improv - which she's good at, according to her mom.

'The show is mostly a collection of small scenes and sketches that relate back to World War II,' says Madeleine, explaining how 'A World War II Radio Christmas' actually works.

Of her own contributions, she says, 'I play a sweet little 8-year-old girl, whose father is in the war . . . an over-protective Irish mother who's supposed to be 250 pounds . . . I play one very serious part, a nurse who's been working in this hospital for a long time . . . I also act in a Vaseline hair tonic commercial, which is not so serious.'

She thinks a minute.

'We do all of our own sound effects,' she adds. 'I play the xylophone at one point, for a commercial, and I do a lot of rummaging of letters.'

And, she adds, she sings - no soloes in her case, but a lot of harmony in the five or six songs she's a part of.

'For the most part, they're Christmas songs,' she says. 'Or songs from the 1940s.'

'Songs that shook the airwaves'

'A World War II Radio Christmas' is a Young Professionals studio production from Oregon Children's Theatre. The Young Professionals program is a series of plays and performances presented by acting students ranging from 13 to 18 selected to participate in a yearlong mentoring program.

The show runs Dec. 3, 4, 10 and 11 at 2 p.m. at Curious Comedy Theatre, 5225 N.E. Martin Luther King Blvd., Portland. Tickets are $10, and the box office number is 503-228-9571. Tickets are also available at the door, but seating is limited, and it is recommended for those 8 and older.

The play recreates a live radio show broadcast from Portland during World War II and it includes, according to the OCT promotors, 'inspiring true stories, comedic sketches and commercials, swinging Christmas tunes, live foley sound effects and the songs that shook the airwaves.'

'A World War II Radio Christmas' was written by Portland's Pat Kruis Tellinghusen and is based on the Christmas From Home series originally performed by Tapestry Theatre.

Directed by Dani Baldwin, the cast includes, in addition to Delaplane, OCT Young Professionals Collin Carver, Bryce Earhart, Rafe Larsen, Daniel Martin, Annie Parham, Celeste Spangler and Sydney White. Music direction is by Jeffrey Childs.

Founded in 1988, Oregon Children's Theatre is Oregon's largest nonprofit professional children's theater company and a resident company of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. Performances are held weekdays for school audiences and on weekends for family audiences.

Transportation by 'Mom taxi'

Madeleine Delaplane lives in the middle of Tigard with her parents, Neil and Nancy, older brother Connor, 19, and 5-year-old brother Mitchell. It's a busy house because the kids are all home-schooled.

It's her second year with Oregon Children's Theatre Young Professionals program, says Madeleine, who even though she's old enough to drive, hasn't actually taken the time to learn and go after her driver's license.

'Mom taxi is how we get everyplace,' says Nancy.

Complicating things even more is the fact that Connor does his own share of acting. In fact, she and her older brother both appeared in NWCT's 'Go, Dog, Go!' earlier this year (and he's in the upcoming 'The Magic School Bus' in February).

Madeleine's performing schedule picked up substantially once she got involved with Northwest Children's Theater. Her resume lists no less than 16 roles there since 2008. In fact, it was through NWCT that she heard about Oregon Children's Theatre.

'I heard about it because I do a lot of stuff at Northwest Children's Theater,' she says. 'I had heard a lot of nice things about it.'

To get accepted in the Young Professionals program, she says, she had to do a monologue, an acting audition, an interview and provide a resume.

'It's a learning program, a mentorship kind of program,' explains Madeleine's mom, adding that it's designed for people 'who really want to be active in the theater.'

Well, guess what? That is Madeleine Delaplane.

'I want to do this'

Like good actors everywhere, Madeleine has the ability to wiggle her way into a role, adjust the fit here and there and then sashay around like she never was that overly polite, good-natured teen from Tigard. She's played a dog, a musician, a mute, a cheerleader, a waitress, Little Red Riding Hood - even the daughter of the Major General in a Gilbert and Sullivan project.

'By the time I was 14, I was pretty sure,' she says. ''I want to do this.''

She has spent most of her spare time since then taking theater classes, dance classes, voice lessons, auditioning at various theater groups - even trying out for movie parts.

Speaking of which, she got one. She's already completed filming in 'Nightbumpers,' an independent project by Heartland Productions which has yet to be released.

She also knows what her next acting job will be.

'I got cast in the Fertile Ground Festival's production of 'One Day' as Sabrina,' says Madeleine, explaining that 'One Day' is an original, new musical depicting a day in the life of a high school.

Written and directed by Kevin Muir, dates for that show are Jan. 20, 21, 28 and 29 (all 7 p.m., except the last one, which is a 2 p.m. matinee).

She also has done some Shakespeare, most notably in the pivotal role of Mcduff in 'MacBeth' this year. She also has taken Shakespeare Comes Alive classes through Village Home Education Resource Center.

Exposure to the Bard, she insists, 'just completely opened me up as an actor.'

'One of the things she's really good at is improv,' brags Nancy, pointing out that 'A World War II Radio Christmas' lends itself to that because of the kind of production it is. 'In this show, for instance, she has to switch voices, switch characters, switch dialects - this is good for her.'

So, what's in Madeleine Delaplane's future?

'In my ideal world, I would just work locally here,' she says. 'I don't feel a strong urge to go off to Broadway or Los Angeles. I really like Portland in general. I even like the weather. I love the rain.'