Take a break from the stressful side of the Christmas season and get on over to Warwick’s Ocean State Theatre Company for a big dose of holiday spirit in the form of “Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical.”
Meredith Willson, who gave us such hits as “The Music Man,” adapted the popular movie into a delightful, light and now somewhat dated Christmas musical. (You wouldn’t think of calling a woman a “dame” these days.) Ocean State Theatre has brought in some New York actors with fine voices, adding a handful of wonderful local children to give the old chestnut a fine production.
It’s a simple, uplifting story about believing and having faith. Richard Koons plays Kris Kringle, a Macy’s employee who really believes he is Santa Claus. To add a bit of romance, we have a single mother (Megan Wheeler), who teaches her daughter that Santa is but a myth. Doris Walker’s neighbor, Fred (Jeffrey Funaro), tries to show young Susan (Brigid Fitzgerald) otherwise. You can see where the “opposites attract” scenario is going right from the get-go.
Fitzgerald wowed Theatre-by-the-Sea audiences as Annie this past summer. She is a delightfully poised young actress.
Meanwhile, Macy’s Santa is sending customers to Gimble’s across the street to purchase toys they do not have. The Macy’s psychologist wants him fired after giving him a psychological evaluation, in one of the dumbest scenes in musical comedy history.
But that scene soon passes and the musical moves merrily along to the second act, where Kris is on trial, as Fred becomes his lawyer and must prove that he is really Santa Claus. Now we go from one of the dumbest scenes to one of the cleverest, as Fred brilliantly shows proof.
“Miracle on 34th Street” is not the greatest musical ever written. Only one song has made it through the years (“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”), but it is a fun show with lots of singing, dancing, romance, comedy and positive messages. This is a great show to introduce your children to musical theatre.
The musical plays through Dec. 29 at Ocean State Theatre Company, 1245 Jefferson Blvd. Warwick. Tickets run from $39-$54. Call 921-6800 for reservations. Put tickets under the tree for the family.