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Everyone should see at least one classic holiday show this time of year. It’s good for the soul, and for the spirit of the season. So, this week, I kicked off the festivities with Miracle on 34th Street at the Arvada Center.
Opening night was packed, and the audience—a bit of an older crowd—relished the performances. For those unfamiliar (gasp!) with the plot, Miracle on 34th Street, adapted from the original 1947 film, follows a New York City mother-daughter pair as their faith in St. Nick—and in people—is restored during the holiday season. And while it might take a few minutes to get into the story (the second act picks up a bit), you’ll leave with that festive, giddy feeling that only comes around once a year. Need a few more reasons to check out the show? We got ’em:
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- Infectious enthusiasm: It’s clear these performers love what they’re doing. Everyone down to the ensemble was grinning from ear to ear during the numbers. Yes, it’s their job as actors to do so, but there was also something genuine about it with this cast. The show opens with a scene at the Macy’s Parade…and really, you’d swear you were there, watching the kids point at the giant cartoon balloons as they float down the street.
- Kris Kringle: Played by Erick Devine (pictured), the jolly old guy in the red suit could make anyone believe in Santa Claus. He had just the right touch of magnanimous cheer without going over the top, a welcome subtlety when it comes to Santa portrayals. His chuckles were believable, his mannerisms endearing, and the whole character was wholly loveable without being sickly sweet.
- The children: The tiny performers are on stage—and adorable—from the opening curtain, but two particular scenes stand out: Six-year-old Ashlyn Faith Williams plays Hendrika, a Dutch orphan who doesn’t speak English when she visits Santa. Her duet with the big guy—in Dutch, no less—as she sits on his knee is precious. And first-grader Nate Kissingford steals the show in the courtroom scene when he unwittingly puts his father, the district attorney prosecuting Kris Kringle, on the spot about his belief in Santa Claus.
- A good cause: After the show, you can purchase a two-disc compilation of holiday hits called “Carols for a Cure,” which benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA). The holiday classics and tunes come from Broadway, off-Broadway, and national tour performers. Only one regional theater was asked to participate: The Arvada Center’s Miracle on 34th Street cast rounds out the holiday sounds.
Watch it: Through December 23; Tue–Sat 7:30 p.m.; Sat–Sun 2 p.m.; Wed 1 p.m. Tickets start at $53.
—Image courtesy of the Arvada Center; photo P. Switzer 2012