Review By Liz Eichler of “Miracle on 34th Street”: Covedale Theatre
Covedale keeps their audiences happy by providing great shows they want to see. What better show to get you into the holiday spirit than “A Miracle on 34th Street,” presented now through December 29, directed by Tim Perrino, who ensures you will be dazzled and warm with holiday cheer.
From the youngest tot, to Santa himself, you will see a cast full of people excited to tell the story that, despite our lack of belief (and even a trial) Santa is real (I know, I know, I know).
The musical, which begins with the Macy’s parade, and goes up from there, was written in 1963 by Meredith Wilson (“The Music Man”) who realized how much we love a parade. So right from the beginning you’re treated to the brilliant reds, golds and whites of a marching band, and jolly green and yellow clowns. The crisp front lighting and jewel tone costumes will dazzle you from beginning to end. There’s another exciting display at the end of Act 1, a dream parade, as well.
“Miracle” is the story of Susie Walker and her mother Doris, who’s strong, practical, independent, and realistic world view is tested by meeting both a man named Kris Kringle who claims he is Santa, and new neighbor Fred, a friendly military man now lawyer looking for his first case.
Nora Darnell is sweet and strong as young Susan Walker. Kelsey Chandler brings strength, power, and warmth in acting and voice to Doris Walker, manager of the Macy’s parade and Christmas extravaganza. Elliot Handkins (Fred Gally) has a gift of physical humor. Just try to resist smiling when Jamie Steele (Kris Kringle) is on stage. Aaron Marshall (Shellhammer) is hysterical, maybe even channeling Charles Nelson Reilly. Peter Cutler (R.H. Macy) has presence and pipes. Justin Glaser (D.A. Thomas Mara) is strong enough to make you wonder who will win the Act 2 trial, presided over by impressive Judge Martina (Julia Hasl Miller).
What a joy to showcase such talented ensemble with amazing voices and strong dancers. The crisp front lighting (Denny Reed) and jewel tone costumes (Caren Brady) will dazzle you from beginning to end.
Shout outs to ready-for-Broadway “new clerks” (sadly uncredited in the program): Cassidy Steele, and I think Hope Pauly and Savannah Boyd (but maybe MacKenzie Kasbaum?). These adorable “new clerks” bring a GenZ vibe to the clueless newbies as they sing to sell you plastic alligators. They deserve their own musical. Or at least a Fringe show.
The full ensemble includes a bevy of sparkling children and great singers and dancers: Cory Blake, Fiona Blanchet, Gabe Darnell (who will win your hearts!), Randolph Geers, Mackenzie Kasbaum (who also has a lovely song as the little Dutch girl), Lily Larsen, Natalie Lorenz, Grace Martin, Matthew Rottinghaus, and Mia Zink.
Music Director Greg Dastillung, Choreographer Karie Lee Sutherland, and Scenic Designer Brett Bowling have created this vibrant world where the characters exude holiday spirit.
A few standout numbers are “Big Clown Balloons,” “You Don’t Know,” “That Man Over There,” “Here’s Love” and “Plastic Alligator.” The strength of these will allow you to forgive some of the moments that, as written, are a bit choppy.
Strong leads and a strong chorus hold up this show, based on the 1947 20th Century Fox Motion Picture, leaving you with holiday warmth, despite a few plot and writing issues that raise an eyebrow from a 21st century audience.
For tickets call 513-241-6550.