Ensemble Cast Bring Beloved Christmas Classic Comes to Life at the Historic Summerville Community Theatre
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
For many holiday movies and live stage shows are generational classics. Over the years audiences have come to appreciate 'A Christmas Carol', 'It's a Wonderful Life', 'The Christmas Story' (I Triple Dog Dare You!), and more recently 'Polar Express' and 'Elf'. While all provide great family entertainment perhaps the most timeless Christmas production of all time is 'Miracle on 34th Street'.
Flowertown Players bring this holiday classic to life at the historic Summerville Community Theatre. Adapted by Mountain Community Theater in 1982 from the novel by Valentine Davies, 'Miracle on 34th Street' is based upon the 1947 Twentieth Century Fox motion picture of the same title. Staying true of form, Flowertown Players follow the original adaptation of the beloved movie.
In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle surprises Macy's customers and employees alike by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, which leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity. While several adults are skeptical, one little girl named Susan slowly allows faith in Kris to win her over.
The story is an immortal treasure and Flowertown Players unwrap this Christmas present nicely, providing two hours of yuletide merriment (pun intended). With two dozen cast members including a cluster of extras i.e. one pedestrian (doubling as a bag lady), two sisters, and three elves, 'Miracle on 34th Street' under the direction of Hanna Cole is a wonder for all ages.
Five principals rise above the well casted ensemble with everyone revolving around retired USAF veteran Jamie Young who dons the Santa suit in theatrical charm. Young presents Kris as the warm and optimistic patron saint of gift giving. Berry Shupe does an equally stellar job of portraying Fred Gayley the impassioned and kind-hearted young lawyer not willing to subject Kris to the insane asylum.
Jenny Aubrey fills the shoes of Doris Walker, the calculated and common sense driven Macy's HR person unwilling to let down her guard even when her daughter begins to believe. Keeping it in the family, Susan is played by Aubrey's real life daughter Ayriella who brings a equal amounts of innocence and precociousness to the role.
Rounding out the main cast, Lindsey Walker turns in a nice performance of the main antagonist to a tee, playing Sawyer the unpleasant and arrogant psychologist hired by Macy's to validate Kris' mental faculties. The entire cast put a lot of heart into the production with several like Hannah Welsh and Regina Wilcox taking on dual roles respectively as Drunken Santa and DA Mara, with Wilcox portraying a foster parent early on and Judge Harper in the second act.
Using a oversized video screen as an additional backdrop to shows vistas of New York and announce where the ensuing scene location is genius, as is using the cast including kids to sing familiar Christmas carols while crew re-arrange props for the segment. The stage play has been updated to reflect modern day communication, with a few gender role changes, however the overall essence of the production is intact.
The 1947 movie is a holiday classic, hopefully to be enjoyed for decades to come. The stage presentation if casted correctly is equally endearing, and Flowertown Players do it justice with all the sentiment of community theatre. 'Miracle on 34th Street' is a welcome treat during the holidays and fun for the whole family. Performances including some matinees run weekends through December 17th. For more visit https://www.flowertownplayers.org/miracle-on-34th-street/