Final dates to see production
by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
Every mom sings and performs for their little ones at home. But this Maple Grove mother of two spends her evenings singing and acting her way across the stage of the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in its production, Xanadu.
Kersten Rodau plays Melpomene, one of two evil sisters in “Xanadu.” The musical, which debuted on Broadway in 2008, is a spoof of the 1980 Olivia Newton John film.
“The comedy, it’s so hilarious,” said Rodau, who is better known in her community by her married name, Kersten Dentler. “I love to sing and perform and making people laugh is a bonus for me.”
When she’s not up to evil mischief or belting out classic 80’s music on stage eight times a week, she’s entertaining her favorite audience: her husband Eric, their 10-year-old daughter Paige and their 4-year-old son Jack. Her family is also used to seeing her in the spotlight.
Her kids have seen their mom on stage since they were small. Her husband has been her biggest fan since they met as students in the choir at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Rodau, a Wisconsin native, earned an Opera Performance degree from the school in 1994.
Upon graduation, she and her husband moved to the Twin Cities, where her career in theater and musical performance have flourished. She has performed regularly at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Ordway Center, and as a featured soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra.
And though sometimes her life feels like a juggling act, she describes it as, “a good kind of crazy.”
She explained, “I feel like I’m a better mom when I’m doing what I love.”
Now that her children are school-aged, she says she strives a lot more for balance in her life.
“I used to try to do every show out there. I used to keep busy 365 days a year. Now that I have children in school, I’m more pick and choosy. If I do a show, I want to make sure it’s worthwhile. I don’t want to just be in a show, I want to be a part of something great,” she said.
That’s one of the reasons, according to Rodau, that has kept her coming back to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre for more than a decade. She describes it as a very kid-friendly environment. She also credits them with being very flexible when she needs time for something family-related. And it also doesn’t hurt that she has a close bond with many cast and staff members.
“When I go there to work, I feel like I’m going to my other family,” she said.
As much as she loves being on stage, Rodau says she is going to take a few months off between the end of “Xanadu’s” run on Sept. 29th and her next project, “Broadway Songbook: The Words and Music of Stephen Sondheim” at the Ordway Theatre in January. She’s looking forward to concentrating on her own little performers.
“My daughter, she loves to perform,” Rodau said proudly. “She’s taking dance and I think she’s a great singer, though I might be a little biased. She’s got the talent for a career, but we’ll have to see what she decides when the time comes.”
In the meantime, she continues to enjoy all the wild antics she gets to participate in on stage in “Xanadu.”
“I pinch myself every day,” she said. “I love my job, it makes me happy, and to be able to bring that happiness to an audience every night, it’s very gratifying.”
For more information about tickets and show times, visit www.chanhassentheatres.com/xanadu.