Abbey Bernard, Emily Jacoby, MaddieSue Miller

Abbey Bernard, Emily Jacoby, MaddieSue Miller

Three young Gilbert actresses have major roles in this month’s Valley Youth Theatre production of “Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail.”

MaddieSue Miller, Abbey Bernard and Emily Jacoby are taking the stage for the theater company’s 24th annual presentation of the Christmas classic, which opened last Friday and will be performed at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 7-8, 14-15 and 22. It also will be performed at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Dec. 21 and at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Dec. 23.

The theatre is at 525 N. First Street, in Downtown Phoenix, and tickets can be purchased at

“This show truly has become a holiday tradition in Phoenix,” said VYT producing artistic director Bobb Cooper. “The young people cast in this production are now a part of a very special group of performers who have honed their skills with this show.”

Over time, 300 young people have been a part of past productions of the Pooh classic, Cooper said, adding:

“Many of our former cast members now bring their children - and even their grandchildren - to see what they were a part of as a child.”

“This is a timeless story about caring, sharing and the importance of friends,” he added. “It has a message patrons of all ages can appreciate.”

Sponsored by Dan and Ann Nahom the musical focuses on a search for Eeyore’s lost tail as the theater is transformed into a winter wonderland and the audience encouraged to sing along with the cast.

MaddieSue, 10, has appeared in several other Valley Youth Theatre productions, including this season’s opener, “Matilda.” She also has appeared in the Mesa Community College’s production of “Shrek,” “Annie” at the Hale Centre Theatre and several productions by the Actor’s Youth Theatre.

Outside of school, she’s involved in competitive dance, plays piano and guitar and is involved in the Homeschool Co-Op. Her goal is to one day be a Broadway actress. 

As for her role in “Pooh” as Bebe the Badger, MaddieSue said, “I like the fun character and the makeup and costumes.”

Abbey, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Chandler Online Academy, is playing Owl in her second Valley Youth Theatre production after playing Big Kid in “Matilda.”

Abbey also is no stranger to the stage, having performed in several Queen Creek Performing Arts Centre productions as a member of the Queen Creek Performance Group. She also is eyeing an acting career potentially taking her to Broadway. 

As for her role in “Pooh,” she said, “I like how Owl is smart and wise and gets to live in a cool treehouse.”

At 17, Emily, a senior at Perry High, is performing in her third VYT production. She also has performed in MCC’s “Shrek the Musical,” Perry High’s “High School Musical,” and productions at the Limelight Theatre and Actor’s Youth Theater.

She is active in her high school drama club and theater company and hopes to teach theater to deaf students one day.

Emily plays Pooh, explaining, “I love my character can bring a smile to any child’s face with their silly antics and warm hugs.”

Produced by Cooper, this production is directed and choreographed by former VYT Kid Ashley Stults. Music is directed by Tristan Peterson-Steinert and has been reworked to include guitars and drums.