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November 15, 2016 > Broadway West treats audiences with Miracle on 34th Street

Broadway West treats audiences with Miracle on 34th Street

By Janet Grant

The holiday season is fast approaching, promising the joys, warmth, and traditions of this special time of year. And with the season comes the countdown to Christmas with its days left for shopping, gathering with friends, and carefully fashioning letters to Santa. And to help get us all in the seasonal mood, FremontÕs Broadway West Theatre Company presents the holiday classic, ÒMiracle on 34th Street.Ó

In December of 1948, Lux Radio Theatre aired a version of the Oscar-winning George Seaton film. Broadway West now brings that live radio play version of Miracle on 34th Street to Tri-City audiences. Directed by the talented Paula Chenoweth, Miracle on 34th Street delivers all the warmth and sentimentality of the original film but with an added immediacy. With live Foley sound effects (Brenna Hentschke) and a stellar cast of nine, Broadway West really does transport the audience to a 1940Õs radio station during a live radio broadcast, complete with that eraÕs movie stars.

A realistic set made up of a Foley table, vintage microphones, and a light-up Applause sign along with period dressed actors playing multiple roles, is a perfect combination of nostalgia and freshness. This production also cleverly includes commercial breaks for its sponsor Lux Soap Company with references to movie stars of the period and a DIY of how to use Lux soap to make snow for your Christmas tree.

Miracle on 34th Street is a heartwarming tale of Kris Kringle, the man hired by MacyÕs as their department store Santa and how he touches the lives of everyone around him. Broadway WestÕs small ensemble stays true to the story and performs as a well-oiled machine to bring a vibrancy to a familiar story.

Foremost, Laura Morgan (Doris Walker/Maureen OÕHara) is convincing as the realistic single mother with an exterior impenetrable to romance or a belief in Santa Claus.

Playing Doris WalkerÕs daughter (Susan/Natalie Wood), is Sydney Salazar. She performs her role with just the right amount of innocence and wonder, delighting the audience with her precociousness.

Mark Alan Flores (Fred Gailey/John Payne) portrays DorisÕs love interest and KrisÕs good-hearted lawyer with a real naturalness. You can feel his strong sense of justice along with his sentimentality.

And of course, Kyle Smith (Kris Kringle/Edmund Gwenn) is amazing as the man of the hour, Kris Kringle. Not only does he physically remind you of Santa, he embodies his essenceÐhumbleness, gentleness, and a touch of whimsy and magic.

Oftentimes, any character who handles multiple, minor roles can steal the show. This is aptly true in this production. Lots of talent is portrayed by Jason Salazar (Announcer, Judge Harper, R.H. Macy, Thomas Mara Jr.), Anna Sample (Child with Santa, Miss Prong), Rachael Campbell (Helena Sorrell, Mother 1 and 2, Mrs. Mara), Joel A.S. Butler (Alfred, Charley, Dr. Pierce, Shellhammer, Thomas Mara, District Attorney), Stephanie Kara (Libby Collins, Nurse), and special scene-stealer, James Allan (Gimbel, Louie, Mortimer, Post Office Worker, Sawyer, William Keighley), whose plethora of vocal ranges, facial mannerisms, and over-the-top antics are absolutely priceless.

Kudos to the hard working cast and crew of Broadway West with its 20th season finale, Miracle on 34th Street. Do yourself a favor and celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with the fun and entertaining Christmas tale that asks the age-old question, ÒDo you believe in Santa Claus?Ó

Miracle on 34th Street
Friday, November 11 Ð Saturday, December 17
8 p.m. (Sunday matinees at 1:00 p.m.)
Broadway West Theatre Company
4000-B Bay Street, Fremont
(510) 683-9218
Tickets: $10 - $27

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