A little too cold on 34th Street

Miracle on 34th Street

New Alexandra Theatre

***

THE story of Miracle on 34th Street first appeared on film in 1947 and has been adapted several times since then for the stage and screen, with a notable film production by John Hughes, of Home Alone fame, in 1994.

Billed originally as a Christmas comedy, one would have thought that the form would have been a great platform for the creation of a musical that a thousand companies, both pro and amateur, could wheel out in the Christmas period for years to come.

However in seems that the rush to mimic a Hollywood style musical out of the Gene Kelly era, that writer Meredith Willson forgot to include any sense of family or genuine warmth or affection or come to think of it Christmas itself . Instead we have a fast paced upbeat romp of brash New Yorkers charactering their way all over this once enchanting and heart-warming tale.

It is entertaining but this highly capable cast whilst energetically singing and dancing their way through an assortment of jazzy style swing pieces might have all been going on about just about anything other than the magical existence of Santa Claus.

Genevieve Nicole plays Doris, the divorced mother bringing up her daughter with a stiff dose of bitter reality. Nicole has a wonderful voice and it is a shame that there is not better material here for her to use it. 

Her daughter Susan is played by Susan Carter who again has a fabulous musical theatre voice but there are only a few glimpses of what she can really do.

James Murphy plays Kris kringle and looks very much the part of Santa with Daniel Fletcher playing the hapless neighbour Fred.

All of the elements of the original story are there but throughout there is little sentiment or childlike wonder.

Indeed there is one song, ` She Hadda Go Back ‘ that seems to have  absolutely no place in the story where by a group of poker playing GI’s wager with Fred over  the arrival time of his female love interest,  Doris . It goes on about all the female foibles of a woman getting ready to go out and does nothing to add to the story or sentiment in any kind of way.

Elsewhere there are high quality performances from the entire supporting cast but even they can’t overcome that in the end something is missing from the way the separate elements have been produced.

As an easy opening to the Christmas holidays it does the job but ultimately it is a shame that such a great opportunity has been missed to musically capture this wonderful tale and the true warmth and magic of the original story. To 07-12-13.

Jeff Grant 

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