It's not Christmas in Chicago without taking in a least one
holiday performance in the city-from Nutcrackers to Scrooge,
Chicago has a bit of everything. This year my family decided to
bypass some of the larger performances and instead head to Stage
773 for Porchlight Music Theatre's production of "The
Miracle on 34th Street."
About 50 audience members surrounded the stage in this intimate
theater, where local actors brought the story of Santa and Macy's
In this remake of the holiday classic, Christa Buck plays Doris
Walker, a jaded single mom and Macy's employee, who has taught her
daughter Susan that Santa is nothing but a story. Enter Kris
Kringle, played superbly (and with just the perfect white beard) by
Jim Sherman, who takes over as the Macy Santa and sets out to
convince both Doris and Susan that he's the real deal.
My daughter loved watching Nicole Karkazis as Susan. She had
just the right mix of the cynical child who has been taught by her
mother not to believe in Santa Claus, along with the wonder of a
child who really wants to believe. Matched up with Fred Gailey,
played by David Heimann, they set out to prove to the world that
Kris Kringle really is Santa Claus.
A couple things we really loved about this performance-the
holiday carols sang by cast members during set changes and the
audience interaction. In one of the opening scenes, when several
actors were lined up onstage to visit Santa, they also had three
children from the audience take part in sitting on Santa's lap and
talking to the man in red. The unrehearsed dialogue was charming to
everyone in the audience, not just the children's parents. It lent
a "real" feel to this wonderful Santa Claus story.
The only part of this show that might be a challenge for younger
children is the lack of an intermission. The show ran about 90
minutes, and because the theater is so small, it's difficult to
slip out for a bathroom break without disrupting the performance.
Aside from that, this is a great way to celebrate the holiday
season with young children. We loved every minute of it.
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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