A Penticton theatre group is taking on yet another Christmas classic when they tell the adapted story of Miracle on 34th Street.
“It is one of the widely known Christmas movies and for that reason a lot of people like to come out and watch. Last year was It’s A Wonderful Life and we had a great showing,” said Jacqueline Koenig, who took on the director’s tasks this year as well as a couple of the roles. “I have had lots of people asking about it the past couple of weeks.”
The story is an adaptation of the 1947 film re-written by Mountain Community Theatre. In the play, Kris Kringle (Bryan Laver) claims he is the real Santa Claus and renews the spirit of Christmas for some in the city.
Kringle’s claims are met with skepticism though, and he is forced into an insanity hearing. It is up to Fred Gailey (Andrew Zender) to defend Kringle and prove to the court, the judge (Christa Phillips) and all who don’t believe that Kringle is actually Santa Claus. Koenig said there is a cast of about 20 ranging in age from youth in her Acting Classes by Jacqueline group to seniors who have been performing on stages for decades. The show will follow along the movie plot with some twists and gender bending in the characters as women take on the roles that were original written for men. While it does sound to have some serious undertones, the show is meant to be a heartwarming comedy.
“I find at Christmas people suspend their cynical ways they got from watching Seinfeld, Simpsons and other television shows and feel there isn’t anything wrong with being sentimental. They can open themselves up to a heart-warming story without having to feel empty-headed and see there are things in the world that can make them feel good,” said Colin Cross, who plays the district attorney John Mara.
Laver has been acting for close to 40 years with various troupes including Bare Bones Theatre, Penticton Chamber Theatre and Many Hats Theatre Company.
“They did a really great job adapting this from the screen to the stage because normally it is reverse of that. I like the whole concept of this show and it has something for everyone,” said Laver. “For the kids it is about believing in Santa Claus and it mixes in contemporary dilemmas that many parents may relate to.”
Miracle on 34th Street runs at the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Nov. 29 and 30 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. The play will then take a break to accommodate the Walk To Bethlehem during the first weekend in December.
Miracle on 34th Street returns on Dec. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. and for a Dec. 15 matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door, or from the Dragon’s Den. Adults are $20, seniors/students are $15 and kids under 12 are free. All proceeds go back to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.