MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas

Neil Friedman (left) as Kris Kringle and Stella Rose Hoyt as Susan in Theatre at the Center's production of "Miracle on 34th Street The Musical" in Munster, Ind., Friday, October 26, 2018. Photo by Guy Rhodes

Do you believe in miracles? Or Santa Claus for that matter, if so this nostalgic movie will get you into the holiday spirit instantly. The perennial Christmas favorite movie ‘Miracle on 34th Street will have you believing that ole Saint Nick is Santa Claus. The American Christmas comedy-drama film was written and directed by George Seaton, based on a story by Valentine Davies in 1947 starring Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood. The story focuses on a department store Santa Claus who believes he is the real St. Nick.

Director Linda Fortunato’s modern remake of this much-loved classic tale ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ at Theatre At The Center reminds us of the power of imagination while leaving an imprint upon our hearts with a little faith. The real Kris Kringle is hired at Macy’s as Santa Claus and becomes a local celebrity through his generosity.

Set in New York City between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day at Macy’s the flagship department store is where you can see that it is beginning to look like Christmas. Adorned in Christmas cheer and Christmas decorations with a huge Christmas tree filled with lights, gifts and holiday shoppers that are anticipating the big annual Christmas parade and children waiting to get a glimpse at the man that hands out promises of making their holiday gift wish list come true.

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But there is one gigantic problem when Kris Kringle (Neil Fredman) stumbles upon the man assigned to play Santa Claus he is appalled because he is intoxicated. When he complains to Doris Walker (Courtney Jones) the special event director for Macy, she persuades him to fill in for the role (after-all the parade must go on), and after doing so well, she offers him the position for the holiday period.  

Doris who is a divorcee raises her daughter Susan (Stella Rose Hoyt) who is filled with cynicism not to believe in fairytales. Attorney Fred Gailey (Christopher Kale Jones) Doris neighbor decides to take Susan to see Santa Claus she is stunned after seeing Kris speak Dutch to a girl who does not speak English. It is at this point that Kris Kringle’s identity of whether or not he is the real Santa Claus comes into question.

Friedman does an excellent job as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street in his resemblance and with his notable talent in a role that was coveted and well loved by Edmund Gwenn in the 1947 film. Neil’s delivery of convincing the children that he is indeed the real Santa Claus is delightful and charming; however, not everyone believes this to be true.

Mr. Sawyer (Sam Shankman) is convinced that the elderly gentleman is unstable simply because he is kind-hearted and is out to prove it by administering a "psychological evaluation." Although, Kris passes the examination things escalates to a court hearing conducted by Judge Martin (Rick Rapp) to prove his identity. Not only have the employees at Macy's believed that he is Santa Claus, but the world with the help of the U.S. post office who has acknowledged him thinks he is the real Santa Claus. 

Director Linda Fortunato does a great job with casting Neil Friedman as Kris Kringle. He makes for a believable Santa and is compassionate, kind, and he even had the Scrooge's excited about Christmas. Stella Rose Hoyt was also outstanding as Susan. She owned this role. Hopefully, we will see more of this little actress. The beautiful Hollywood voice that brings you back to the old classic movies sounded amazing. Courtney Jones as Doris was a delight.  Christopher Kale Jones as Fred sealed a night filled with the magic of theater. He was convincing and adorning with Jones.

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Let’s Play ‘Highly Recommend’ you start your holiday season off with Miracle on 34th Street a story filled with all of the distinctive elements that make Christmas so special, hope, faith, and joy!

The cast includes:

Doris Walker (Courtney Jones)

Susan (Stella Rose Hoyt)

Fred Gaily (Christopher Kale Jones)

Kris Kringle (Neil Friedman)

Marvin Shellhammer (Dan Klarer)

R.H. Macy (Michael Kingston)

See website for additional cast

 

Theatre At the Center

Miracle on 34th Street

Book, Music & Lyrics by Meredith Wilson

Author Valentine Davies

Directed and Choreographed by Linda Fortunato

November 18 – December 23, 2018

 

 

 

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