HO-HO-KUS, N.J. — While Ho-Ho-Kus resident Elena Shaddow has long separated her careers as a mom and professional actress, she'll be blending the two this winter for her next leading role as Mother in Millburn's Paper Mill Playhouse's production of "A Christmas Story."
This will be Shaddow's second time playing a parent on stage — her first was when she originated the role of Francesca Johnson in "The Bridges of Madison County" before it came to Broadway — and she says it's a natural fit. Almost too natural, though.
"The only challenge I face is bringing too much of my own personal experience to this woman," said Shaddow, who trains young performers through her business from her home, Elena Shaddow Voice Studio.
"She’s a mother in 1940s and I’m a working mom in 2015. It’s a very different life than my own."
Based on the 1983 screenplay, "A Christmas Story" is the comical account of Ralphie’s desperate quest to ensure that an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle ends up under his tree this Christmas.
The Broadway regular has appeared in "Les Miserable," "The Bridges of Madison County," "Fiddler on the Roof" and many more.
Her favorite scene in "A Christmas Story" features her two on-stage sons — Ralphie and Randy — trying to repair something after a fight between Shaddow's character and her husband.
"It's a very real and honest moment that rings true in any household," she said. "They think if they fix this broken thing then their parents won't fight.
"As a mother and a wife, you witness these moments where you want your see your kids wanting everything to be perfect. It's a very real moment and it's damn-near heartbreaking."
Shaddow has most enjoyed learning to embody her character's whimsies and innocence. Much of her role reflects the reality of many modern families, she said.
"She's got a nervousness about her — like not quite getting dinner right and dropping things on the floor a lot, but always with a sense of joy and lightness," Shaddow said. "That's the kind of mother I want her to be.
"I want to show the love that his mother has for her children and her husband," she said.
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