Ring in the holidays with a “Miracle” By: Johnathan Baines
Miracles are happening at the Dixie this Christmas season! Ruston Community Theatre will help you believe in Santa as they present the heartwarming holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, directed by Mary Watkins and sponsored by The Green Clinic. The play was adapted by the Mountain Community Theatre from the novel by Valentine Davies, based upon the 20th Century Fox motion picture. This show is sure to delight audience members of all ages as elves and carolers fill the stage and a little girl learns to believe in the impossible.
The play takes place during the hustle and bustle of Christmas in New York, where a white-bearded man going by the name Kris Kringle gets a job portraying Santa Claus for Macy’s department store. When it is discovered that he considers himself to be the real Santa Claus, the vocational guidance counselor advises he be committed. However, his charm and generous spirit have captivated the hearts of many employees, including Doris Walker, who doesn’t believe in Santa and will not allow her 7-year old daughter Susan to believe either. The case eventually goes court, where Fred Gayley, a genial lawyer and friend to Doris, vows to prove legally that Mr Kringle is, in fact, Santa Claus.
Director Mary Watkins states she hit the nail on the head casting David Merchant as the iconic Kris Kringle. After watching the movie and reading both the play and original novel, Merchant feels prepared to take on the role. “It’s a lot of fun,” he states. “I was nervous at first, as this is the biggest role I have had so far, but I’m making it my own.” His favorite scene is a moment when the guidance counselor Sawyer is trying to analyze Kringle who is tired of be questioned, “I enjoy the banter between those two characters.”
At the center of the conflict is the faith of a little girl, Susan, who is trying to believe in Santa despite her mother’s reprimands. This role is played by 9-year-old Audrey Anna Brown who is thrilled to have her first leading role. Watkins states she has been a joy to work with and was the first to have all her lines memorized. Audrey Anna, who is normally a fun-loving and spirited girl, is having fun playing a role that is more cynical and serious. She likes the part where she is sitting in Santa’s lap and pulls his beard to ensure it is real.
This is the largest cast and biggest production that Mary Watkins has directed thus far, but she feels her years of stage-managing the summer musicals have
adequately prepared her for the challenge. She has always wanted to direct a Christmas show and was so excited to have this opportunity. “This show is special to me,” she states, “because it brings us the message to have faith and believe in things when common sense tells us not to.”
Miracle on 34th Street will appeal to anyone who wants to have fun and get in the Christmas spirit. The show will run Thursday, December 6 through Saturday, December 8, at 7 PM, and Sunday, December 9, at 2 PM, at the Dixie Center for the Arts. Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for students. Tickets are on sale online now, so go to www.rctruston.org to reserve your seat or call the box office to buy over the phone: (318) 595-0872. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram or Twitter at @rctruston to stay informed on other RCT events and shows!