What a treat it was to see the iconic 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street, brought to life on stage at the Tacoma Little Theatre (TLT). The actors and actresses filled the room with inspiration and Christmas spirit so that everyone had a smile on their face.
If like me, you sometimes forget the story lines in some of the Christmas classics or even blend plot lines together, I’ll summarize the story for you. Kris Kringle (played by Elliot Weiner), an elderly man who believes he’s actually Santa Claus, has recently been released from an institution because the powers that be determined him to be sane.
While walking down the streets of New York, he stumbles onto an opportunity to play the role of Santa Claus at Macy’s Department Store. Macy’s employee Doris Walker (portrayed by Elena Easley) hires Kringle because she’s in a bind, but it soon comes to light that she’s not a true believer in Santa and has passed that bias down to her young daughter Susan (played by Adysen Barkhurst, a fifth grader at Saltar’s Point Elementary in Steilacoom). Of course, that makes for conflict when Susan and her mom befriend Kringle and he comes to stay with their neighbor, Fred Gayley (portrayed by Gabriel McClelland). To further complicate the situation, Gayley does believe in Santa and also believes he has a chance with Doris.
Is Santa real or not? Find out in the courtroom scenes at the end of the performance.
During many of the scenes, the members from the cast come dashing down the aisles of the theater to enter the stage. There’s so much to watch, you’re not sure whether to look next to you or on stage some of the time. From the adult and youth ensembles who sing your favorite Christmas carols to the sugar-fueled elves who dance, giggle and even jump rope on a pogo stick, you’ll find large doses of joy and laughter, much needed at this time of the year.
In the original film Natalie Wood, then a child actress, portrayed Susan. You’ll find many of Wood’s charming qualities in this Susan at the Tacoma Little Theatre’s production. This is her second performance at TLT and she does a convincing job of changing from someone who thinks Santa is make-believe to one of his staunchest supporters near the end of the play.
Before you see the play, make sure you have your Santa story straight because you may get tons of questions from your younger children. After attending the play, you can read the original book by Valentine Davies to reinforce the story.
If you go …
When: Miracle on 34th Street runs through December 23. Friday-Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
Where: Tacoma Little Theatre in the Stadium District in Tacoma
Tickets: $12.50-$24.50. Buy online at tacomalittletheatre.com
Is your child old enough? Although the show is recommended for children three years and up, you know your child the best. They need to be quietly seated for 90 minutes before intermission and 45 minutes after intermission.
About the author. Heather Larson, a writer in Tacoma, enjoys visiting kid-friendly places in Washington with her grandchildren and then writing about the experience.