The concept of a play reading performed as a Radio Play is great, and it works well for Miracle on 34th Street at the Roxy. To be successful, you need enough space for actors to be at the microphones in quick succession, who can manage without rustling their scripts. And you need a quick-witted person on Foley – the name given to an assemblage of equipment which will produce sound effects indicating footsteps, doors opening and closing, a telephone ringing, newspapers being read, and other essential sounds for an audience listening to the action over the radio.
R.J. Peters is brilliant as this sound effects person, and the temptation is to ignore the readers and simply to watch this genius work his magic on all the items within his reach. Peters is also the host of the show, and he makes the announcements about the commercials, which of course, are all about the Blue Bridge and the silent auction being held in its support.
The seventeen cast members include five children, and they sort themselves out neatly on the small stage, and mostly make excellent use of the microphones.
Andrew Bailey has adapted (presumably from the 1947 film) the script, and it fits nicely into the 100-minute performance.
The story is well-known – an elderly man plays Santa at Macy’s Department Store in New York. The thing is, he believes he is the real, one and only Santa Claus; his sincerity and reasonable behaviour make the audience believe him. But the sceptics argue that he is delusional, and he ends up in court, fighting the order to send him to an asylum for the insane. He is defended by a young lawyer, who is also trying to persuade a young woman and her daughter the value of belief. So faith is at the root of this delightful Christmas classic.
The Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre is alternating Miracle on 34th Street with another beloved tale – It’s a Wonderful Life, with the same cast and crew. This is the schedule: December 16 and 18 at 8:00 pm and December 17 at 2:00 – It’s a Wonderful Life. December 17 and 18 at 8:00 pm and December 18 at 2:00 pm – Miracle on 34th Street. Buy tickets to both shows and save 20 per cent. An inspiring way to get into the Christmas Spirit, if you are not already there.
A side note to the theatre management – the use of electronic devices should be strongly discouraged. A woman across the aisle from me had her lighted phone on and was texting throughout the show. She might as well have stayed home to do that.