‘Miracle on 34th Street’ at The Montgomery Playhouse by Anne Tsang


One of my favorite holiday memories as a child was putting on a pretty dress and going to stand in the line at Macy’s in Herald Square with my cousins for our annual visit and photos with Santa. My cousins and I would get a group picture with Santa and then take our turns on his lap telling him what we wanted that year. As I got older, and my wonderment and firm belief in the existence of Santa started to waver, it was the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street movie that for many years helped me to continue to believe in Santa. Miracle on 34th Street has been a staple in many of our holiday seasons growing up and it continues to do so.

Maya Gensler (Susan) and Bill Spitz (Kris Kringle) work on their scripts from the radio version of “Miracle on 34th Street.” Photo by Bruce Hirsch. Courtesy of Gazette.Net.

The Gaithersburg Arts Barn in partnership with The Montgomery Playhouse presents an interesting twist on Miracle on 34th Street. The entire show, directed by Bruce Hirsch, is done as a live radio broadcast reminiscent of those done in golden age of radio (1920s-1940s). There are even vintage commercials in between each “Act” of the show.

Miracle on 34th Street, for those not familiar with the movie, tells the story of a man hired by the cynical and no nonsense Doris Walker (Kathryn Murphy Ryan) to work as the Macy’s Department Store Santa. His insists that his name is Kris Kringle (Bill Spitz) and that he is the real Santa Claus. When he gets into a minor scuffle and comes to notice of the police, he has to prove that he is, “the one and only Santa Claus” in order to keep from being committed to a psychiatric hospital. Kris’ lawyer, Fred Gailey (John van Eck) and Doris’s young daughter, Susie (Maya Gensler) need a miracle to help free Kris. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, I won’t ruin the ending!

L to R: Kristie Milewski and David Landstrom. Photo by Bruce Hirsch. Courtesy of Gazette.Net.

Kathryn Murphy Ryan’s sarcastic and deadpan tone as Doris Walker and Maya Gensler’s endearing portrayal of Susie Walker are the highlights of the show. They are supported also by David Landstrom, Mark Shullenbarger, Ed Silverstein, Mara Bayewitz, and Kristie Milewski in various roles. There is even a chance for audience participation. Just like in a real radio or live taped show, there is a sign that reads “Applause” and when lit, the audience is expected to applaud.

Miracle on 34th Street at The Montgomery Playhouse at The Gaithersburg Arts Barn is great for a fun night out, and it’s child friendly!

Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Miracle on 34th Street runs Fridays and Saturdays through December 16, 2012 with a special Sunday December 16, 2012 matinee at The Gaithersburg Arts Barn – 311 Kent Square Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. Purchase tickets by calling (301) 258-6394.

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