Entertainment » Theatre

Miracle on 34th Street

by Christopher Verleger
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Dec 12, 2013
Megan Wheeler and Brigid Fitzgerald
Megan Wheeler and Brigid Fitzgerald  (Source:Mark Turek)

For those of us who especially can't bear the thought of sitting through another production of "A Christmas Carol" or "The Nutracker," Ocean State Theatre Company offers a welcome, refreshing alternative with its colorful, heartfelt and above all, joyous production of another holiday favorite, "Miracle on 34th Street."

Based on the 1947 film and with music and lyrics by Meredith Wilson, "Miracle on 34th Street" is the familiar tale of Kris Kringle (Richard Koons), a Macy's employee who bears an uncanny resemblance to Santa Claus.

One day at work, Kris meets Susan Walker (Brigid Fitzgerald), the daughter of his boss, Doris (Megan Wheeler), a single mom who raised her daughter not to believe in Santa. Not only does Kris encourage Susan to believe in Santa, but he insists he is Santa, so when word gets out that this kindly older gentleman has made such a claim, Kris is put on trial to determine whether he is insane.

Highlights from this delightful, energetic production, directed and choreographed by Barbara Hartwig, include show-stoppers, "Parade" and "The Dream Ballet," as well as moving ballads, "You Don't Know" and "Look, Little Girl."

The striking stage set, elaborate costumes and lively dance routines are top notch and are sure to awaken the Christmas spirit among the audience members, and may even convert a few nonbelievers.

The striking stage set, elaborate costumes and lively dance routines are top notch and are sure to awaken the Christmas spirit among the audience members, and may even convert a few nonbelievers.

Koons makes a wonderful Kris Kringle, complete with a smile from ear-to-ear and the most cheerful voice. In addition, it was particularly pleasant to see Santa Claus portrayed by a younger actor, who appeared distinguished rather than elderly or frail.

Wheeler is terrific as the jaded divorcee, Doris, who learns to let down her guard, and Jeffrey Funaro is equally charming as her bachelor neighbor, Fred. As each other's love interest, both actors make cute to the audience's benefit, and Fitzgerald shines as Susan, their unwitting matchmaker.

Other noteworthy performances from the supporting cast include Matt DaSilva, an absolute hoot as Marvin, Doris's scatterbrained assistant, Josh Christensen, hilarious as the high-strung Mr. Sawyer, and a genial Daniel Larson as Judge Martin Group.

I wasn't aware a musical version of "Miracle on 34th Street" even existed, and I haven't seen the film in quite a while, so it was fun and exciting to revisit this classic accompanied by song and dance numbers. OSTC's jubilant production will make you laugh, cheer and above all, remind you, as the song goes, that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

"Miracle on 34th Street" continues through Dec. 29 at Ocean State Theatre Company, 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI. For info or tickets, call 401-921-6800 or visit Ocean State Theatre Company's website.

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.


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