Theatre NorthWest’s second production of this season is the perfect experience to start feeling the magic of the holidays.
Miracle on 34th Street, a live Radio Play Musical directed by Kayvon Khoshkam, is a different take on a Christmas classic that culminates with Macy’s Kris Kringle on trial to defend the existence of Santa Claus.
It’s a play full of songs and music that isn’t found in the two popular film adaptations of the tale. That’s because instead of being a straightforward retelling of a Miracle on 34th Street, it’s actually the story of a 1940s radio play production of a Miracle on 34th Street.
A group of performers are brought together on a cold winter night to bring the medical story to life on stage and on the airwaves back in 1947, and the performance isn’t going so smoothly.
“Anybody who has done a play will tell you how challenging it can be, and sometimes it feels like a miracle in itself to ever get it open. We decided to introduce some gremlins to this evening’s performance that I think the Grinch himself would be proud of,” said Khoshkam in the director’s notes.
“They have to help each other if they are going to pull this show off. Through that adversity this company find each other and the holiday spirit.”
If you think you know the story well from films, the radio play element puts on a fresh take for the story.
As an audience member you are not only taking in the story of a Miracle on 34th Street, but enjoying the music, and analyzing the dynamics between the actors on stage. All of these elements converging together makes for a quickly paced, witty and entertaining show.
I’m continually impressed by the set design of Theatre NorthWest productions and this show is no exception.
The set is gorgeous. It looks exactly like an old radio studio decorated for Christmas. There is even an “applause” sign that actually encourages the audience to clap at the right moments.
It’s quite an immersive experience, almost like watching a live studio broadcast of a real radio production in the 1940s.
The entire cast does a fantastic job and the play is very funny with the humour originating with the actors struggling to make the broadcast go smoothly.
The songs also feel organic to the situation, so even those who aren’t the biggest fans of musicals might still get a kick out of this production.
My favourite part was the “ad breaks” where the actors sang 1940s-era radio jingles for real local businesses and even sang a jingle for Beaver Lumber.
Miracle on 34th Street, A live Radio Play Musical is definitely a play for the whole family. Not to sound cliché but it’s got something for everyone – classic Christmas music, nostalgia, humour, and a heartwarming tale.