Miracle on 34th Street, the Twentieth Century Fox motion picture has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. I have always loved Susan-the girl who doesn’t believe in Santa. This Mountain Community Theatre adaptation of the novel by Valentine Davis is directed by Sandra Struthers and is produced by Lakeshore Players in White Bear Lake. The play runs through December 15th.
In this adaption, the play centers around Kris Kringles’ instability, questioned by Sawyer , Macy's vocational counselor, (Jesse Villarreal) who believes Kris is deluded and dangerous and has him shanghaied to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital. The counselor, Sawyer, goes back and forth between professional and stomping around on the stage in the tantrums of an immature child. At one point, he takes out a barf bag, agonizing how the case of the ‘mad Santa’ will go to trial, leading to his potential job loss. He knows Ms. Macy (Lynda Plante) will discover the bad publicity he has brought to the department store.
While there are similarities, the film focuses more on the brewing romance between the mother and neighbor, and the character of Susan, who’s influenced by her mother who tells her there’s no Santa. Whereas, the play focuses more on Kris Kringle's instability.
Kris Kringle is the Santa every kid loves: loud, jolly and looks the part with real beard and spectacles, making jokes and puns that will have you laughing out loud. Some of my favorite examples are when Santa asks a child, "How are you?" The child responds "Mad." To which Kris with biting irony says "Tell me about it." Or in an investigative scene when Kringle is asked, "Are you married?" His sardonic reply is, "Is that a proposal?"
Emily Heaney did a wonderful job designing the costumes. The elves are particularly cute and cheerful in striped leggings and slippers, Santa’s perfect henchmen, as they joke about how the union is going to back him, dancing and singing Walking into Winter Wonderland….
Scenic designer, Nicole Delpizzo creates the scenes with a toy store, a Manhattan apartment, and a courtroom. While the children on set do excellent space work to keep scenes constantly engaging. One actor breaks out in the millennial dance move ‘the floss’ to show enthusiasm for Kris Kringle.
Directing the cast is Twin Cities respected director and longtime theatre actress, Sandra Struthers has performed in nearly forty productions. Her upcoming play, Author Author will be a part of PWC center, Ruth Easton series this January.
Even if you watched ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ the Twentieth Century Fox motion picture, this adaptation is fantastic.
Tickets at lakeshoreplayers.org