Review: Miracle On 34th Street delivers early Christmas cheer

Is it Santa, or Kris Kringle?
8 Nov 2013 @ 10.58 am
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Is it Santa, or Kris Kringle?
Is it Santa, or Kris Kringle?

Review: Miracle On 34th Street
Venue: Joseph Rowntree Theatre, November 6

Christmas came early to York last night as New Earswick Musical Society put on their performance of Miracle On 34th Street, the musical.

Whilst this is one of my top ten movies it’s the first time I’ve seen it in musical format and I was curious how they would handle some of the scenes, particularly the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Much to the audience’s delight the lights came up unexpectedly and various members of the cast danced down the main aisle waving and smiling in their costumes as they made their way to the stage.

They utilised two levels of the stage to help give scale to the scene. My favourite character in the parade had to be the reluctant Miss Muffett in his brown workman’s boots, pink curly wig and stubble.

He looked even funnier when he pushed Santa’s sleigh and his skirt was tucked over the end giving us an even better view of his boot clad ankles!

There’s a little boy in the scene in a flat cap and over large jacket and I’m sure I wasn’t the only audience member thinking how cute he looked.

Doris, played by Jo Pears, has a beautiful voice, and did an excellent job of portraying the role. Her daughter Susan was played by Zoe Blenkiron and the scenes between the two were lovely. Zoe captured the cynical side of Susan well, and again sang well.

Miracle workers: some of the cast
Miracle workers: some of the cast

Throughout the show the set on the small stage was clever and well utilised. For a small company they had a full stage of cast members, and the costumes were well thought out.

Kris Kringle, played by Stephen Tearle, certainly looked the part and had a convincing jolly laugh, although I think he could have done with slightly more padding!

He was the only cast member not affecting an American accent and at times he certainly sounded more like the Richard Attenborough version of Kris Kringle, my favourite.

There’s a lovely scene between him and Susan where he’s sat there in his dressing gown and I had to chuckle at his red socks on display.

Several audience members were taken by the performance of the little Dutch girl, Henrika, played by Gina Blenkiron. She has a lovely and strong voice, I’m told she was also the little girl who impressed the audience by doing the splits in the parade.

Tommy Mara, played by Archie Plant, was the most convincing American in the cast. He plays the prosecutor, and with his close cropped haircut and black pinstripe suit gave an excellent performance. The court scenes were some of the funniest in the show.

For me the highlight of the show has to be Marvin Shellhammer played by Steve Padfield. His over the top performance frequently had me in laughter, he flounced around from one side of the stage to the other in a very effeminate way, and despite his best efforts didn’t persuade me to buy a plastic alligator.

He frequently faints or falls to the floor, and it’s so funny.

It’s a great effort by this local amateur society, and if you’d like a taste of Christmas come early then they’re on at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre until November 9.

  • Miracle On 34th Street is at Joseph Rowntree Theatre until November 9. For tickets, click here