Theatre at the Center’s “Miracle on 34th Street” is Enchanting

My apologies to Theatre at the Center. I meant to get this review up sooner, but I’ve had some personal problems which prevented it. I’m soooo sorry for the delay!

**** Recommended **** Theatre at the Center’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street” is a charming musical adaptation of the 1947 movie. This is your chance to sit back and enjoy a nostalgic trip to a time when children asked Santa for actual toys rather than electronic gadgets. If you have children or grandchildren, this is a golden opportunity to introduce them to live theater. Judging by the starry-eyed small people I saw in the audience, “Miracle on 34th Street” is a hit. By the way, Meredith Wilson (“The Music Man”) wrote the book, music and lyrics, including one of my favorites, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”. Kudos to TATC Artistic Director Linda Fortunato and the rest of the production crew at TATC. 3 ½ Spotlights

Just as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is ready to start, Doris Walker (Courtney Jones) learns that the Santa she hired is inebriated, so she hires Kris Kringle (Neil Friedman), a nice man with a white beard, to take his place. He’s so good she hires him as Macy’s in-store Santa.

Fred Gaily (Christopher Kale Jones), a former Marine, is a brand new lawyer. When he meets Susan Walker (Stella Rose Hoyt), he’s surprised to hear that she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. She says she knows he’s just a nice old man because her mother told her so.

As Santa/Kris interacts with parents and children, Fred and Susan watch. When he understands and then speaks in Dutch to Hendrika (Liliana Rene), Susan begins to wonder if he might be Santa. When another parent asks where to find a specific toy, and Kris sends her to another store, Marvin Shellhammer (Dan Klarer) sends him a pink slip. R.H. Macy (Michael Kingston) is ready to blow a gasket, but Doris convinces him that this was a brilliant sales ploy, and they rescind the firing.

Mr. Sawyer (Sam Shankman) decides that Kris is crazy because he believes himself to be Santa Claus, so he sends him off to Bellevue. Judge Martin Group (Rick Rapp) is ready to sign commitment papers when Doris announces that Kris has a lawyer and he’ll be in court in the morning. Doris recruits Fred to defend Kris, and of course, they all live happily ever after.

The TATC ensemble, including Hope Elizabeth Schafer, Matthew Huston, Michael Potsic, Chris Carter, Trequon Tate, Haley Jane Schafer, Rachel Klippel and Veronica Garza, deserves a mention. The kids, Ashley Lanyon, Amir Henderson, Liliana Rene and Ethan Solis were terrific! Kudos to all!

And now it’s time for a short rant! I hear there are people who refused to see this production because ‘they should never have made this movie into a play’. To all of these people I say, get over it, it happened in 1963! In case you haven’t noticed, there’s really nothing new out there. Adapting is what they do – books become movies/plays, plays become movies, movies become plays – not to mention jukebox musicals.

“Miracle on 34th Street” runs through December 23rd at Theatre at the Center, Center for the Visual & Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster. Parking is free. Running time is about 2 hours with an intermission.
Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:00 pm; Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3:00 and 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:30 pm; with select Thursday and Sunday night performances. Tickets range from $42-$46. FYI (219) 836-3255 or www.theatreatthecenter.com.

Read all of my reviews at www.spotlightonlake.com.