There really is a Santa Claus
Tacoma Little Theater, a 98-year old community theater, presented one of the best of the modern Christmas tales this past weekend, Miracle on 34th St. Like many Christmas tales, it deals with questions of morality and generosity through an unrealistic plot. Originally a film in 1947, starring Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood, there is also a fair amount of wit and humor.
As the play opens, an older bearded man named Kris Kringle, played by Mi Dresdner, believes himself to be Santa Claus and is hired to be Macy’s Department store Santa Claus, when their Santa is intoxicated at the annual New York Thanksgiving parade. As Macy’s Santa, his performance is uneven, he is a big hit with the kids as he is charming and seems to know everything about them; with the parents because he tells them where they can find cheaper toys.
However middle management decide to fire him because he is not pushing the store’s toys (like beebee guns) But, when the store’s owner, Mr. Macy, played by Kerry Bringman, discovers that there is actually good publicity in honesty, the decision is reversed. Meanwhile, Mr. Kringle has managed to get himself committed to Bellevue, New York City’s hospital for the insane.
In the end, his committal is reversed because a skeptical little girl, who had not previously believed in Santa Claus, came to believe, and of course she gets her Christmas wishes, a kindly step-father and a house of her own instead of an apartment.
All in all it was a fun, heart-warming production. The set and costumes were excellent and authentic for the period. Like all screenplays turned into stage productions there were a lot of short scenes, but the scene changes were handled well, by director Maria Valenzuela, because the impressive set was easily moved and each scene change was covered with live Christmas carols by the cast and piano accompaniment. Michael Dresdner as Kris Kringle and Marion Read, as the nasty Mrs. Shellhammer, a Macy’s employee, delivered excellent performances.
Before the show, the ensemble sings Christmas Carols in the lobby and after the show, Santa Claus meets the children, so it is a good family show.
Miracle on 34th Street. Tacoma Little Theatre. 210 N. I Street. Tacoma, 98403 Fri, Sat 7:30pm; Sun. 2pm Thru Dec. 24th.