“Miracle on 34th Street” is one of America’s most beloved Christmas stories. For those unfamiliar with the classic tale, it focuses on young Susan (Claire Olinger) and her mother Doris (Lisa Binion). Not wanting to fill her daughter’s head with (seemingly) impossible dreams, Doris is against all things fanciful—including belief in Santa Claus. Doris and Susan, however, meet a very special man on a fateful Christmas they’ll never forget—a man who might just be the real Kris Kringle (Philip van Lidth de Jeude)—and who impacts their lives and the lives of everyone around them in a very real way.
Though the original film upon which the play is based was released in 1947, NRACT’s version, written by Mountain Community Theater and directed by Brian Lord, is lightly updated—cell phones come out regularly, and there are mentions of iPods and “going online.” The updates are enough to modernize the story without causing it to lose any of its original charms, and indeed, the NRACT production has plenty of charm to go around.
Lidth de Jeude is appropriately jolly and kind in his role as Kris Kringle, and his interactions with the younger cast members make up some of the best moments in the show. One particularly heartwarming moment comes when Kringle sings with a little Dutch orphan (Gigi Jones) in her native language, making her first Christmas in the states a brighter one. There are also plenty of cute elves to go around, but the show isn’t all saccharine sweetness.
Binion turns out a solid performance as the tough-as-nails Doris, while the talented Tim Wiest adds plenty of laughs as the villainous Mr. Sawyer, a man out to prove that Kris Kringle isn’t Santa but, instead, is just plain crazy. There’s even a little romance thrown into the mix thanks to Doris’ blossoming relationship with nice-guy Fred Gayley, played with gusto and—there’s that word again—charm by Joshua Henderson.
Quick set changes, many of them made possible by the aforementioned cute elves, and the perfectly time use of much-loved Christmas tunes keep the energy up, equaling a festive little production that is sure to put adults and children alike in the holiday spirit.
The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14, 3 p.m. Dec. 15, 7 p.m. Dec. 20 and 21, and 3 p.m. Dec. 22 at NRACT, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center.
TICKETS: $16.52 ($13.41 students and seniors 62+) (including fees).
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228 or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/484042.
NEWS RELEASE: http://www.nract.org/news/518-nract-presents-the-triangle-premiere-of-%E2%80%9Cmiracle-on-34th-street%E2%80%9D. 2013-14 SEASON: http://www.templeshows.com/showsandevents/fullseason.php.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.nract.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/NRACT.
NOTE: The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre six annual “Winter Gala” fundraiser will be held, starting at 5 p.m., before the 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14th, performance of Miracle on 34th Street. For details, click http://www.nract.org/news/524-celebrate-the-holidays-with-nract-at-our-2013-winter-gala.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947 novella) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_on_34th_Street_%28novella%29 (Wikipedia).
Valentine Davies (American novelist and screenwriter, 1905-61) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine_Davies (Wikipedia).
Miracle on 34th Street (1947 film) http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/83570/Miracle-on-34th-Street/ (TCM Movie Database), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_on_34th_Street (Wikipedia), and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039628/ (Internet Movie Database).
Miracle on 34th Street (1982 play, adapted for the stage by the Mountain Community Theater) http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2807/Miracle-on-34th-Street,-the-Play/product_info.html (Dramatic Publishing).
Brian Lord (director) https://www.facebook.com/brian.lord.330 (Facebook page).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.