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Arts and Entertainment

Meredith Willson's Stage Version of 'Miracle on 34th Street' Comes to the Landers

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(Banner design courtesy Springfield Little Theatre)
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Springfield Little Theatre will present the stage musical version of the classic 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street starting November 27 at the Landers Theatre on Walnut. The show, written in 1963 by Meredith Willson, creators of shows such as The Music Man and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, tells the famous story of a certain white-bearded gentleman who claims to be the real Santa Claus and brings about such miracles as fostering cameraderie between Macy's and Gimbel's department stores in Manhattan. He also manages to convince a cynical single mother, her somber daughter, and the entire state of New York that Santa Claus is no myth.

Jamie Bower, who directs LT's production, notes that Willson wrote not only the music but the book for this musical, and he "filled it with some gorgeous music, of course.  Meredith Willson's music is very recognizable, march-heavy, and he gets to put in a whole parade on this, and a toy ballet." Willson's original script updated the story from 1947 to 1963, when he wrote his adaptation. "You can tell by a lot of references in the script," says Jamie Bower. "And it's great, but I think personally, that 1963 doesn't have that holiday Christmastime appeal of postwar 1947.  So we dialed the time a little bit back, took a few 'temporal liberties'. But really, all that took was changing a few references--and coordinating with our costumer!"

Ron Seney plays Kris Kringle, and Bower calls him a "picture-perfect representation" of the character--"just a fabulous actor to watch."  The show requires a large crew, cast (57 members), and pit orchestra, says Jamie Bower.  "This will be our biggest musical pit (orchestra) of the year. We have 16 members in our orchestra."

Opening Friday November 27th, the show will runs Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:30, and two Saturdays also at 2:30 (Dec. 5th and 12th) at the Landers.  Tickets are available at the Landers box office, 869-1334, or online at http://www.springfieldlittletheatre.org.

Jamie Bower adds, "Everybody loves this story, and there's no reason not to. We all need a little faith these days, and it's just a heartwarming tale that is perfect for the holidays."