Home for Christmas: Singer, actress in spotlight Dec. 14 with Philharmonic

Madelyn Lego remembers singing with the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir years ago as a youngster and wishing she could be in adult soloist Kate Hamilton’s shoes.

Hamilton, a Columbus native like Lego, was centerstage as the guest artist at a sold-out Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s holiday concert, crooning classics and newer works alike.

“I remember thinking, ‘I would love to be the soloist,’” Lego said while reminiscing.

Lego, now 25 and a Manhattan resident ideally aiming for Broadway, gets her chance to be the featured soloist at the local professional orchestra’s pair of concerts titled “Holiday Pops!” at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Judson Erne Auditorium in Columbus. She also will be joined for some numbers by the children’s choir that she once served in — and the group that long has been a favorite at these yuletide events.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

The performer will put her stamp on the shows with a jazz twist (including Columbus native and sax player Alex Farrar), slightly unusual for the Philharmonic for the holidays. That flavoring includes funky, club-style numbers such as “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus,” a caffeinated version of “Jingle Bells” that Philharmonic Music Director David Bowden classifies as “just plain off-the-charts fun,” and a version of “I’ll be Home For Christmas,” complete with scatting — something that Bowden has encouraged with maybe only one other guest artist through his many years of conducting.

Bowden has known Lego since her childhood — and has noted her “really huge range” nearly three-octave vocal talent as she has grown as a young adult artist.

“I’ve been carefully watching her for several years,” Bowden said. “And I can’t wait to work with her. I think she’s got a lot to offer. She has so very many skills.”

Bowden also took note of an online quote about Lego that she could be “the next Kristin Chenoweth,” referring to the celebrated, Tony Award-winning pop vocalist heralded for her huge, powerhouse vocals. As much as anything, Lego acknowledged that she loved the upcoming concerts’ jazzy freedom for her.

“I just love the opportunity of getting to (spontaneously) play,” she said, referring to the scatting and more. “One of the most fun parts of being a (vocal) musician is being able to collaborate and create something that really wasn’t there before.

“If you look at a lot of the sheet music as it is written (for the concerts), it’s pretty basic in the melodic lines. But that gives me a lot of opportunity to tweak it here and there to make it a bit funky and personal.”

Lego’s favorite number in the varied program is “I’ll be Home For Christmas.” The good news for her and her family is that, despite a current role in a Columbus, Ohio, stage production of the disco musical “Saturday Night Fever,” she will indeed be home for Christmas. So it seems an understandable pick.

“A lot of that is because of the sentimental value,” she said.

And the singer with soft sentiment also has learned to groove Seventies style — perhaps thanks to dad and drummer Tom Lego’s 1970s albums — for the current Ohio show. One of her tunes as the character of Pauline is a rendition of “Jive Talking.”

“I’ve grown up with an appreciation for that music my whole life,” she said.

And Lego has maintained a sense of humor about her local stage experience. Her last two Mill Race Theatre Company roles were as Charlie Bucket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 2015 and as “Peter Pan” in 2012. She chuckled at the memory.

“I realize that there may be tons of people there who have seen me play only little boys,” she said. “So it may be a bit of a surprise to now see this young adult woman on stage.”

She also likes her humor and comedy in her downtime with TV shows such as “Schitt’s Creek” and “Friends” re-runs. But her viewing time of shows and movies also is serious, since she has been trying her hand at screenwriting.

“I just love the overall art of TV,” she said.

Lego’s musical homecoming partially will include working with Ruth Dwyer, the past and current local children’s choir artistic director. The veteran choral conductor always has been careful to say she is proud of her former members whether they become singers and actresses or doctors and lawyers. But she loves to see them shine in the spotlight.

“My heart glows with pride when our CICC singers come back and take the stage once again as a soloist,” she said. “And I am looking forward to seeing and hearing Madelyn Lego.”

And hearing all that jazz.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Pop goes the holiday” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Who: Columbus native and New York City resident Madelyn Lego performing pop-oriented and jazzy numbers with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic — and some with the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir, of which she once was a part. Columbus native and sax player Alex Farrar of Indiana University also will perform.

When: Two shows — 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

Where: Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. in Columbus.

Tickets: $10 to $50.

Information and purchasing: 812-376-2638 or thecip.org

[sc:pullout-text-end]