Legend has it that Santa Claus was “a right jolly old elf,” and thus the case could be made that the Crighton Players have entered the realm of “perfect casting” in the selection of Thomas Lockhart for the role of Kris Kringle in the current production of “Miracle on 34th Street,” a stage adaptation of the Valentine Davies novel that is best known via the classic Hollywood film version of 1947. If you see no other Santa this season, don’t miss the merry, rosy-cheeked, and utterly joyful performance of Mr. Lockhart. With eyes-a-twinkle, he is winning the hearts of young and old all over town.
Director, Becky Teague, has made certain that the supporting cast is excellent as well. The familiar story of Macy executive, Doris Walker (Laura Heibel), and her jaded young daughter, Susan, (Talia Siple) really takes off when Doris hires a department store Santa and Susan scorns him as a fake. But is he? Therein lies the fun of this well-known tale. With youthful charm, wonderful stage presence, and a fine clear voice, Miss Siple gives a stunning performance as Susan, while slowly evolving from skeptic to believer. Ms. Heible gives us a Doris who has an evolution of her own, from hard-nosed business executive to a sensitive mom who at last understands the real meaning of Christmas. Her love interest, lawyer, Fred Gailey (Joe Witcraft), gently helps her along the way. Other fine supporting work came from Amy Sowers as the mean-spirited Macy’s personnel analyst, Rachael Threadgill as Dr. Pierce, Sarah Garrison as nanny Cleo, Marcia Feldt Bates as Mrs. Shellhammer, and amusing Renee Cannon was a frequent scene-stealer as Miss Adams. Joe Viser gives us a suitably exasperated Judge Harper, Jeff Elkins is Mr. Mara, the ruthless district attorney who meets his courtroom match in his own little boy, Tommy, adorably played by young Jake Hatfield. And speaking of young performers, the cast is full of more that a dozen talented youngsters who all do a superb job. Sachi Tanaka is very sweet as the little Dutch Girl who sings with Santa, and newsboys, Michael Wong and Chase Schmidt, shout out the “Extra ! Extra !” before announcing each day’s courtroom headlines. Many other youngsters fill in the park and parade scenes, and all are beautifully costumed in the classy elegance of young fashions I remember from years ago while working in the beautiful B. Altman store on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Costume designer, Lynn Peverill, scores another gold star, and if you don’t believe me, just have a look at Santa’s exquisitely detailed costume.
But one more highlight must be mentioned. Director Teague has wisely punctuated scene changes and slow moments with a wonderful cast of ten adult carolers elegantly dressed in formal attire. Throughout the performance they brought sweet harmony to just about any favorite Christmas carol you could name. Why not drop by and see if your favorite carol is one of them?
“Miracle” will be performed at Conroe’s Crighton Theatre on Friday and Saturday nights through December 15th with a matinee at 2 p.m. on December 9th. Tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for those under 18. For further information call 936-441-7469.