Last Saturday’s matinee was packed, and judging by the way the crowd and the actors met onstage immediately after the performance, I figured that this was basically a family/friends affair.
Which it should be. The sincerity of everyone’s participation and the occasional moments of charm or comedy aside, this mounting of “Miracle on 34th Street” is not for a public expecting a polished presentation of the familiar holiday story.
Especially at the high ticket prices charged.
The story concerns Kris Kringle (Mark G. David), who finds his way to Macy’s to be a seasonal Santa before he gets tossed for claiming to be the real Santa Claus and promising the children that he’ll grant their every wish.
A subplot involves the burgeoning romance between Doris Walker (Anna Starr, who has a lovely singing voice) and Fred Gayley (Phillip Bruns). She’s a hard-working Macy’s employee and single mother of Susan (Shaylee Hansle), embittered by a divorce and cautious about a new relationship. He’s a lawyer, fond of Susan and enamored of Doris, optimistic about their chances.
However, their relationship becomes complicated when Fred defends Kris at a mental competency trial and Doris clings to her doubts about the old man’s stability.
By a heartwarming sleight-of-hand, of course, the trial vindicates Kris and makes believers of even the most cynical observers.
Director Donna Zobre Baxter has helped her cast of 20 committed adults and children (a few playing multiple parts) to hit their marks, and she has also engaged Jasmine Gold as music director to train some carolers to entertain during set changes. It’s an apt touch, but it slows the proceedings.
Paige Paddock, as Miss Shellhammer, a twitchy Macy’s employee; and Siobhan Shea as Alberta Sawyer, a hiss-worthy psychologist, provide the show with energy and credibility.
By the way, the production is in The Addy, a new black box space that, over time, may become a valuable arena for contemporary shows. At this point it seems a little makeshift for any production that requires much scenery.
I applaud CTG’s earnest efforts here, but at this time of year, when many venues are competing for your entertainment bucks, I don’t think this offering is ready for prime time.
‘Miracle on 34th Street’
WHERE: Classic Theater Guild, The Addy, Proctors, 432 State St.
WHEN: Through Dec. 10
HOW MUCH: Adults, $22; seniors/students, $18
MORE INFO: 518-387-9150, or classictheaterguild.com