The award winning Arvada Center brings Christmas joy with MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET-THE MUSICAL playing now through December 23rd. The musical is based on the story "Miracle on 34th Street" by Valentine Davies; book, music and lyrics were written and composed by Meredith Willson (The Music Man and The Unsinkable Molly Brown). As Miracle on 34th Street unfolds, a wise old white bearded gentlemen claiming to be Kris Kringle shows up in New York City only to discover that the holiday to which he is eternally associated has become tarnished by commercialism and greed. When he gets hired as Santa Claus at Macy's, the jolly old gentleman goes about setting things right - even as events conspire against him. Based on the delightful movie classic that starred Edmund Gwenn as Kringle and a young Natalie Wood, this musical version includes memorable songs such as "Jolly Old St. Nicholas," "The Holly and the Ivy" and more. As we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, we all need a little break to remember that miracles do happen. The Miracle on 34th Street is pure family entertainment - make it part of your holiday celebration.
First I have to make a confession - I absolutely LOVE Christmas and everything that it includes and luckily this show encompasses every passionate desire and gave me a big steamy cup of peppermint hot chocolate with a candy cane on top. The genius that is MerEdith Wilson really captured the essence of Christmas and this classic movie with this wonderful musical interpretation. As a whole Arvada Center has put together a nostalgic, heart warming, and feel good Christmas musical that is the perfect gift for the whole family. From the opening number of the Parade you knew you were in for a good time. There were so many wonderful moments in this show including Arm in arm, Plastic Alligators jingle, Fairy Tale Ballet, That Man Over There, I believe in Santa Claus. The jingles had the audience in stitches and the kids were absolutely adorable. All in all this was the perfect blend of elements (comedy, romance, nostalgia, suspense, and wonder) that brought a smile to every audience members face.
Erick Devine was perfect as Kris Kringle (so much so that I believe in Santa Claus!). His internal conflict over his identity was fascinating to watch and he had a lovely voice. Lauren Shealy as the cynical Doris Walker was simply fabulous and captured the hearts of everyone. Her love interest, Fred Daily (craftfully played by Jody Madaras) was also quite good and had that geeky quality that made you want to root for him throughout the show. Regan Fenske was the definition of precocious as Doris's daughter Susan Walker. It was Ben Dicke that stole the show as Doris's frantic assistant, Marvin Shellhammer and had the entire audience in stitches. Mark Rubald was also quite delightful as R.H. Macy and just a fun character in general. Scott Severtson as the hard nosed DA, Thomas Mara, Sr really showed contrast and just melted when his son Thomas Mara Jr (played by the adorable Nate Kissingford) took the stand. I have to say that the entire ensemble really made this show and did an outstanding job and that the children of the show were completely on point and just wonderful.
Director Gavin Mayer and Musical Director David Nehls pulled together a fantastic cast and gave us just enough Christmas without going over the top and making it too sugary sweet. The show flowed effortlessly and was an absolute delight. The choreography by Piper Lindsay Arpan was the perfect amount and filled with fantastic numbers (I loved the Parade and Fairy Tale Ballet). Brian Mallgrave once again amazed us with his scenic design that was fascinating as a rotating set of a city scape that looked like a pop-up card with dual sets going on in the middle. I also loved the vintage Macy posters on the walls that gave it that sense of nostalgia. The lighting design by Vance McKenzie and sound design by David Thomas further complimented this wonderful set and were spot on. The costumes by designer Chris Campbell were absolutely fabulous and rich and flowy while still remaining to the period of the movie. My only Christmas wish was that there would be spiked eggnog in the lobby that we could bask in during intermission. I guess I will ask Santa for that for next year!
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET-THE MUSICAL is that perfect mixture of Christmas delight filled with comedy, nostalgia, and romance that is perfect for the whole family. The Arvada Center presents the magical MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET-THE MUSICAL playing now through December 23rd. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 1 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. For tickets or more information, contact the box office online at www.arvadacenter.org or by calling 720-898-7200.