Hoping that this was the start of it beginning to look a lot like Christmas, expectations were high for the latest touring production of Miracle on 34th Street. However, instead of opening the festive season by warming the cockles of your heart, this below par, lacklustre production left this reviewer stone cold.
A sprinkle of glitter starts the show, and it is one of the few moments that sparkle in this two-hour production. With a book as dull as ditchwater and songs that do nothing to alleviate the boredom, it is astonishing that such a bad job could have been done with one of the best-loved Christmas movies of all time.
Single mother Doris and her daughter, Susan, don’t believe in Santa, but when a suitor of Doris’ attempts to charm her daughter with a visit to Santa in Macy’s department store, things change for the pair when they meet the charismatic Kris Kringle. Could he be, as he claims, the real Santa? It takes a whole lot of faith and a court case to get the answer.
With dialogue pitched so far above the children in the audience’s heads that it is practically in the clouds, a malfunctioning, simplistic set that lacks festive sparkle, and only one tune that the audience knows, (Pine Cones and Holly Berries, otherwise known as It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas) there is little to capture the imagination and even less to keep it.
From curtain up, the mistakes just keep coming: with a misbehaving curtain; fairy lights that don’t work; out of synch dancing; glitches with props; a dated script; two-dimensional characters; a ‘child’ actress who appears a decade older than the part, this couldn’t be further from what you want from a festive show. With the volume pitched at road-drill level and a cast spitting out its lines at breakneck speed, it also takes considerable time to key the ear into what is going on.
There are only two people who escape from this unscathed, Danny Lane’s Kris Kringle is warm and charming, exactly what the role requires and David Muscat’s Judge Group lends some much-needed gravitas to the proceedings.
This has all the hallmarks of a village hall production instead of the glitter-spangled Hallmark greetings card you would want it to be. Thoroughly disappointing.
Images: Darren Bell
This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub