This time of year there are thousands of theater groups across the country that put on shows dealing with Christmas. From It’s a Wonderful Life to Miracle on 34th Street, there is no shortage of holiday cheer. This year M&M Stage Productions brought MIRACLE OF 34TH STREET to the Kelsey Theatre – their marquee announced before the show that they will bring It’s a Wonderful Life next year (see what I mean?). Meredith Willson based this musical on the 20th Century Fox motion picture, which stays pretty true to the film.
The story is about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a little girl’s belief, or lack thereof, in Santa Claus. As the story is told, a romance develops, a man opens the eyes of several cynics, and a community learns to believe again – whether in Santa or in the birth of a relationship or that materialism is not the reason for the season.
Sheldon Bruce Zeff (Kris Kingle) leads a cast of phenomenal singers and actors through this timeless tale. Zeff portrays a perfectly honed Kris Kingle with professionalism and finesse, creating a character that has been viewed millions of times in many different mediums without caricature. He makes the character his own, while incorporating various attributes from the character in the film. In the role of Shellhammer, Dan Slothower brings the best comic relief, especially during “Plastic Alligator”. His comic timing is priceless. Roman Sohor (Fred Gaily) is the most stand out performer with melodious vocals that make the audience want to listen to him croon long after the curtain falls.
The large and complicated set design by Mike Almstedt is magnificent and manipulated well by the crew as the scenes change back and forth in a show that requires careful pacing. Everything involved in the production from costumes to props to sets were put together well and enhanced the story telling.
Overall, MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at the Kelsey Theatre as performed by M&M Stage Productions is well worth the time and price of admission. I travelled over two hours (one way) to review this show, and I was most certainly not disappointed.
M&M Stage Productions production of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at the Kelsey Theatre runs through November 30th.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Meredith Wilson (Based on the 20th Century Fox Picture)
Story by Valentine Davis; Screenplay by George Seaton
Directed by Tom Bessellieu
November 21st thorough 30th
M&M Stage Productions
1200 Old Trenton Road
West Windsor, NJ 08550