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Cloverdale Performing Arts "Miracle on 34th Street" - REVIEW


Cloverdale Performing Arts "Miracle on 34th Street" - REVIEW

REVIEW by Malena Eljumaily

Running December 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30pm, December 6 and 13 at 2pm. 

Most of us have our Holiday traditions, which might include decorating, baking, caroling or re-gifting that darned old fruitcake that keeps making it's way back to you. If you're taking the family to a live show, the usual choices are Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol.  But if you are looking for something a little different, but still part of the American Christmas tradition you might enjoy Cloverdale Performing Arts Center's production of Miracle on 34th Street.

For those who haven't seen the 1947 movie, the story is simple: Macy's hires a dear old man to be their store Santa. He calls himself Kris Kringle and actually thinks he's Santa Claus. Is he crazy or is he truly Santa? The cast and crew have a jolly time answering that question. This is an upbeat show with a nice balance of humor with more thoughtful ideas, like faith, imagination and “the real spirit of Christmas.”

The success of any production of Miracle on 34th Street will necessarily hinge on the performance of Kris Kringle. Bret Palmer plays Kris as endearing and likeable. As far as believable goes, I wasn't sure at first when he came on stage wearing a dark winter overcoat, but once he changed into his Santa costume and then a cozy red Mr. Rogers sweater and slacks, all was well.

Bret Palmer (KRIS KRINGLE), Natalie Thompson (SUSAN WALKER)

Besides Kris, the story involves Doris Walker (Wanda Wiemar), Macy's special events director,  her sweet daughter, Susan (Natalie Thompson) and their neighbor, Fred Gayley (Nick Enriquez.) They all do well in their parts. There is also a gaggle of elves who seem to transform from department store helpers to true elves as the story progresses. They provide a lot of kinetic energy in their bright green and red costumes.  

Wanda Wiemar (DORIS WALKER) ,Nick Enriquez (FRED GAYLEY)The set is a dazzling display of lights to represent New York City in the 1960's as the play begins. It then serves as a perfect backdrop for scenes set in Macy's and other locales. Director Diana Grogg makes good use of the space having actors enter and exit from the aisles at times, a good way to make the audience feel more involved in the play.

My one complaint would be that the second act consisted mostly of a sanity hearing to determine if Kris should be carted off to Bellevue (that's where they take mental patients in NYC) and those scenes seemed a bit repetitive. There were a lot of witnesses sworn in and postponements of the proceedings.  But once we muddle through that the story moves along nicely and there is a happy ending for all involved.

This production of Miracle on 34th Street was adapted by Mountain Community Theater from the novel by Valentine Davies. Based upon the Twentieth Century Fox motion picture of the same name.

Cloverdale Performing Arts
209 N Cloverdale Blvd, Cloverdale, CA 95425
(707) 894-2214 

Photos by John Gobeille