“Miracle on 34th Street” is playing this holiday season at the Laurel Mill Playhouse on Historic Main Street, in Laurel, Maryland. This version was adapted by Mountain Community Theatre from the novel by Valentine Davies and is produced by Maureen Rogers and directed by Jen Sizer.
If you have never seen the popular and iconic holiday movie made in 1947, the plot opens with an old gentleman who calls himself Kris Kringle (Lenny Dinerman) who has been recently released from a “home” to the streets of New York. He is shortly hired to replace a very drunk Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and subsequently as Macy’s 34th Street Store’s Santa. He is hired by two employees, Ms. Shellhammer (Roshelle Patterson) and Doris (Erin Klarner), a mother of a young girl named Susan (Alexana Bredland). Kris endears himself to not only Mr. R. H. Macy (Tim Evans) but also to Mr. Gimbel (Larry Simmons). (For those of you who don’t remember, Gimbel’s was once Macy’s biggest competitor in New York, and yes department store history buffs, there was actually no Mr. Macy at this time.)
However, the Guidance Counselor for the store, Sawyer (Shannon Willing), insists that because Santa is not real, Kris must be delusional and potentially violent. Of course, Kris gets involved with little Susan and her mom, Doris. They both live next door to a young lawyer, Fred Gayley (Michael Safko), who is clearly in love with Doris and is very fond of Susan. Fred becomes friendly with Kris and becomes his roommate. Well, need I say more about this subplot? Remember this was the 1940’s when almost all movies had happy endings.
The production is a perfect brew for the holidays. Santa, little kids, villains who are overcome by love and kindness, and, of course, a pinch of romance are all part of the recipe.
‘Miracle on 34th Street’ is a wonderful sweet confection to make your Holiday Season a little brighter and merrier. So, whether you believe in Santa or not, you will believe in the spirit of the Holiday after this bit of downtown New York City visits Historic Main Street Laurel.
Playing the romantic leads Safko and Klarner make a sweet couple. Klarner also shines as Susan’s mom, a bit over-protective and a bit bitter from a recent divorce. Safko is believable as the “swashbuckling” legal hero.
Dinerman is a great Kris Kringle. He is jolly, but still has enough anger when he is mistreated by Sawyer to keep us wondering if he is really Santa or not. Dinerman even looks like a Santa in real life, perfect casting.
The very young Alexana Bredland adorably plays little Susan and will steal your heart.
Megan Safko as Dr. Pierce, a friend of Kris’ from the “home,” Maia Krapcho as Halloran, the blustery campaign manager, Laila Brooks as the prosecutor, Mara, Tim Evans as R. H. Macy, and Christine Johnson as Judge Harper join Willing and Patterson most capably in the main supporting roles.
Also featured are Ron Able, Anwar Al-Mallah, Kaylee Bloom, Sam Bredland Dutch Child, Ann Henry, Maggie Johnson, Max Johnson, Amani Khan, Terri Laurino, Marge McGugan, Aiden Michael McKnight, Sean Person, Mirakal Ragins, Mia Reese, Diana Simmons, Larry Simmons, Aeris Tepper and Autumn Williams. This cast of cute and talented kids and capably seasoned adult actors create this wonderful comedy that has become, perhaps, an American folk tale.
Sizer not only directed but did the set, lighting and sound design. She did well with this large cast filled with youngsters to get this fine production up and going for the Season. She keeps things humorous and bright.
Sizer and Marge McGugan did the costumes. The Elf costumes are particularly cute and cheerful. The men’s and women’s wardrobe are all in period.
“Miracle on 34th Street” is a wonderful sweet confection to make your Holiday Season a little brighter and merrier. So, whether you believe in Santa or not, you will believe in the spirit of the Holiday after this bit of downtown New York City visits Historic Main Street Laurel.
Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes with an Intermission.
Note: Susan Brall has a theatrical connection with members of the crew. It has not affected her review.