Tacoma Little Theatre delivers a Christmas present to its patrons with its uplifting production of “Miracle on 34th Street.” Based on the novel by Valentine Davies, which was made into a movie in 1947, the play is about a man who claims he is Santa Claus, a little girl who does not believe in him and a court case that determines his fate. The story begins on the streets of New York City, where people have gathered to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kris Kringle (Elliot Weiner) is down on his luck. Having recently been discharged from a home for the mentally ill, he is living in a zoo, helping an employee tend to the reindeer in exchange for a room to stay in. The Santa Claus (Michael Osier) hired by Macy’s quickly shows his unfitness for the job. He shows up drunk and is soon passed out on a bench. Needing a replacement on short notice, Macy’s hires Kringle.
It is soon evident the importance to this production of the sets, designed by Blake R. York. A circular, rotating piece with three sets is used throughout the play. It quickly turns the street scene into the interior of Macy’s. At other times it serves as an apartment and a courtroom. The three main characters are Doris Walker (Elena Easley), a divorced mother who works at Macy’s; her young daughter Susan (Adysen Barkhurst) and their next-door neighbor Fred Gayley (Gabe McClelland), an attorney who has strong feelings for Doris. Barkhurst, a fifth-grader at Saltar’s Point Elementary School, gives a very good performance in her second mainstage play at TLT. We see her character evolve from the girl convinced that Santa Claus is make believe in the first act to a true believer in the second act. Indeed, this production is a showcase for young actors and actresses. The elves who work at Macy’s are a group of local teenagers. They wear the holiday spirit well in their costumes, which in this play are handled by Michele Graves, Diane Runkel and Marci Hagerman. The play is set in the 1940s and director Casi Wilkerson maintains the flavor of that era. In a time when television was in its infancy, radio was a major source of information for most Americans. The radio newscaster (Heather Kennedy) provides a good reminder of that with her brief report on the controversy surrounding Kris Kringle. TLT’s production is a delightful reminder not only of the spirit of Christmas but the importance of believing in something, even when “common sense tells you not to.” “Miracle on 34th Street” runs through Dec. 23. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. A pay what you can show will be on Dec. 7. For more information visit http://www.tacomalittletheatre.com or call (253) 272-2281.