Ever wondered if Santa might not be real after all?
If your answer is yes, you would probably understand the pressing question that troubles young Susan Walker in Westmont Theatre’s production of Miracle of 34th Street.
Miracle on 34th Street tells the story of Kris Kringle, a man hired as a Santa Claus at a Macy’s Department Store, who claims to actually be Santa himself. His insistence of his true identity confuses Susan, who’s mother, Doris Walker (Kringle’s employer), taught her not to believe in Santa. As Susan regains her faith in the father of Christmas, grown-ups around her grapple to ignore their once-assured doubt in the man who rides a flying, reindeer-drawn sleigh. Questioning Kringle’s mental state, skeptical adults aim to hospitalize him by taking him to court. However, the exhibit of hundreds of Santa-addressed letters from the post office proves Kringle’s legal validity, and a judge rules in his favor.
The cast and crew express nothing but appreciation for Miracle on 34th Street.
Senior Shiloh Martinez, who plays Kris Kringle, values the show’s impact on the community, expressing his gratitude for “more opportunities to build camaraderie and Christmas spirit in the theatre department.” Martinez’s charisma and wit on stage charms his audience; he embodies Kringle’s caring nature.
And of course, you have to respect Director Hazel Behl’s talent behind the scenes. Though Miracle is Behl’s first time directing, she does a phenomenal job. Behl explains, “It’s definitely been an experience . . . everyone has been really nice to work with and just really respectful.”
Incredibly unique, Westmont’s rendition of Miracle on 34th Street modifies the show to be a vintage radio play, including fan favorite sing-along carols scattered throughout the production. As myself and others can attest, the lively show was a blast to watch.
Furthermore, the Walker family, daughter Susan and mother Doris, face challenges when their views on Santa start to contrast. Senior Alex Gryciuk plays the enthusiastic little girl. Gryciuk carries such a passionate energy, and her animated expressions bring a smile to the audience’s faces.
When watching senior Kailey Topping as Doris, you constantly see her reacting and immersed in the scene, even when she isn’t “in” the current conversation between characters. She stands out on stage no matter what she is doing. Topping reflects on her involvement in the play: “I’ve had a lot of fun in this show! The rehearsal process was very quick; we only had about two weeks to prepare, but rehearsals were always a lot of fun!”
Unlike other adults, both Mr. Macy, who works with Doris, and Fred Gailey accept Kringle’s claim to be Santa Claus. Responsible for Kringle’s success in court, Gailey brilliantly delivers stacks of dropped-off letters to the North Pole that recognize Santa as a legitimate person. Kenzy McDowell is incredibly dignified as Gailey!
Senior Matine Nejad does a wonderful job as Mr. Macy. Macy, though technically an employer of Kringle, testifies Kringle’s honesty when questioned by judge Leef Orr. In the holiday spirit, Orr offers a playful quip on their time in the show: “Everyone sleighed.”
A firm non-believer, Mr. Mara testifies against Kringle and his supporters. Junior Kaleb Ma shares Mara’s anti-holiday cheer; when asked about his thoughts on Miracle, Ma claimed (in his audience-loved country accent) that “there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.”
I argue against Ma’s argument, for Miracle on 34th Street completely and utterly restored my once lost faith in Santa.
Additional photos from Miracle on 34th Street: