A Life in Art

Artist Interrupted, Answering The COVID Challenge By Going Home To Theatre Roots: Madison Abdul

Answering the COVID challenge, Madison Abdul — now Madi Jo — fills the void with a return to her roots. She takes the stage in The Ghosts All Around Us, a new work by Jonathan Fadner, back home with Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News

From Roosevelt Island With Love and Focus…

“I graduated onto Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where I am a senior double major in Anthropology and Theatre, with two minors in ethnomusicology and visual art,” says MSTDA alum Madi Jo Abdul.

Before answering the COVID challenge, Madi Jo on stage...
Madi Jo Abdul on stage and in costume…

For her, theatre is a family affair, both intimate and extended. And she credits her sister Kaitlyn for getting her started.

“My love of theatre stems from watching my sister perform in Midsummer at the MSTDA as Puck. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, that she could transform herself before my eyes on stage.”

A highlight came when the two performed together in Sondheim On Sondheim. I wondered, as their beautiful voices paired, how so much music came out of such a tiny figure on stage.

I love Sondheim, and the sisters Abdul made me love his work even more.

Taking it up a notch… no make that several notches…

Answering the COVID challenge, in perspective, looks like just another step up for the inspired Madi Jo.

“I am currently preparing to assistant direct a production of The Colored Museum for one of my senior capstones, alongside Joe Wilson Jr.,” she says.

Then Madison Abdul, Madi Jo (second from right) shares the stage with Sondheim On Sondheim cast members. Sister Kaitlyn is on her right. Credit: Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance.

Wilson Jr. understudied for Denzel Washington on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh.

“I am also working on an anthropological film entitled Fear Itself for my  second senior capstone in anthropology, exploring and personifying the ways in which fear manifests itself in the objects and material culture we use every day.

“Post grad is a bit uncertain at the time, though I’m currently scheming a potential independent film company with some fellow Wheaton theatre majors. Until then, I’m hard at work, recording my own music to be released soon, and painting murals on my bedroom wall until the last drop of paint runs dry.”

Can’t speak for anyone else, but I got a little tired just reading about all the things Madi Jo’s up to now.

Answering the COVID challenge means coming back home…

MSTDA “has been my home ever since I could remember. Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent celebrating a great performance, and fortifying relationships with friends who I am still in contact with,” Madi Jo tells us.

And now, on Friday, she plans on doing it again. The Ghosts All Around Us premieres that evening with a live stream available to anyone. COVID restrictions limit audience size, but you can grab ticket that lets you watch safely with family and friends here.

For Madi Jo, charity begins at home…

“In terms of my work in Ghosts, I know I’m right where I need to be when I stand alongside my castmates,” she says.

“Right now, the world needs art, needs performance, and a bit of candid comedy. The world needs critique, something traditional with a twist, something new and from the heart.”

Answering the COVID challenge, Madi Jo Abdul as Charity in "The Ghosts All Around Us."
Madi Jo Abdul as Charity in Jonathan Fadner’s The Ghosts All Around Us for Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance.

“This musical has given me the opportunity to work with people who I have both shared the stage with before, and whom I would not have otherwise had the privilege to work with.

“My character is spunky, sarcastic, but brutally honest and true to herself. Those are the things which I strive to be every day, whether I’ve made a mistake, or perhaps a wrong turn. The only way to fix our missteps is to look back and say ‘okay, how can I be better next time?’

“What Charity, my character, assures us, along with the other resident ghosts, is that we may not always have a ‘next time,’ or the opportunity to reflect. That fact is more important now than ever before. In the end, the one thing that exists in an endless supply is not money or material goods, or even eggnog; it’s compassion. It’s charity. ‘

Catch Madi Jo, along with her local castmates, in The Ghosts All Around Us, beginning streaming on Friday. Three more shows are on tap for the weekend. Get your ticket for any of them here. Don’t miss it.


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