The Pasadena Playhouse is presenting the original 1947 radio play of Miracle on 34th Street (on its 70th anniversary) until Dec. 23 only. The play is directed by Cameron Watson, with a cast that includes Peri Gilpin (Frasier), Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Jim Rash (Community), and Beth Grant (The Mindy Project).
The play tells the story of a department store Santa who claims that he’s the real thing, which takes him all the way to the Supreme Court. Kris Kringle (Molina) is believed crazy by most, although a series of “miracles” are also attributed to him.
It is at first odd to see the actors on stage, script in hand, reading their lines, but soon you understand that the idea is to see what used to go on at a radio station as a play was read live on the air while thousands listened. It also brought to mind a contemporary play reading, except here fancied-up with projections, a colorful stage, and actors whose faces one may recognize from TV. It’s not anything we haven’t heard before, I mean, most of us know the story, but the performance is still really sweet and fun. The fun comes from actors like Rash, who has a splendid minute on the spotlight as he does two different voices on two different microphones without error. The sweet comes often from Yvette Cason, as she treats the audience to several Christmas songs in her melodious voice.
I left the theater happy, feeling festive, and infused with holiday spirit. And isn’t that what we want out of the season, particularly this week!? You have eight more changes to catch this “radio show” at the Playhouse, starting Tuesday night and through Saturday.
Tickets range $25 to $65, available at PasadenaPlayhouse.org and by calling (626) 356-7529. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 S. El Molino Ave, in Pasadena 91101.
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