Michael Saguto is used to be busy this time of year helping audiences of all ages capture the stage spirit of the season.
Saguto, 15, a sophomore at Glenbard West High School, spent his 2012 holiday season playing the dual roles of Peter Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge as a young boy in "A Christmas Carol" at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. And previously, he played Thomas McDowell in "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey" at Provision Theatre in Chicago.
This month, he's playing Hermey the Elf, who's determined to be dentist, in the Broadway in Chicago run of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical," at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place in Chicago and just extended through Jan. 5.
"I watched the TV special growing up, so to be playing these same characters now for this stage version is great," said Saguto, who alternates playing the role during the run.
Based on beloved stop-motion puppet 1964 TV classic, all of the favorites North Pole friends and foes are brought to life for this 90-minute, one intermission production, including the Abominable Snow Monster and Yukon Cornelius and Santa and Mrs. Claus.
"Even though it's a fun show for kids and families, it's also a story with a message," Saguto said.
"You should always follow your dream. And if you put your mind to it, you can do anything."
Honoring the tradition of the original animated television special, Emerald City Theatre and First Stage worked together, under the umbrella of Broadway in Chicago, to bring to life the magical world of the North Pole in a large-scale, spectacle-filled musical with all the classic songs.
"We are thrilled to collaborate with First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank and his artists from First Stage," said Emerald City Producing Artistic Director Ernie Nolan.
"Jeff Frank's enchanting, original adaptation is a feast for the eyes with heartwarming holiday cheer, with a little Emerald City magic to the recipe."
Founded in 1996, Emerald City Theatre creates theatre experiences that inspire early learners through play. Emerald City is one of Chicago's most attended non-profit theatres, with an annual programing reach of 80,000.
Through a rigorous collaboration between innovating artists and leading educators, Emerald City develops new work for young audiences, with over 29 world premieres; produces professional productions at the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park, The Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, and the Little Theatre; and provides acclaimed educational programming throughout Chicago through Emerald City Theatre School.
Since 1987, First Stage has grown to become one of the nation's most acclaimed children's theaters and the second largest theater company in Milwaukee.
Besides having some help from from his parents Tony and Lori, Saguto said even his younger sister Ellie, 11, helped him learn his lines for "Rudolph."
"I had to get used to learning to wear the special Hermey the Elf wig and hat and walk in his pointed shoes," Saguto said.