When I heard Babylon Village’s Argyle Theatre (located at 34 Main Street), Long Island’s newest year-round professional theatrical venue, was mounting a production of “Miracle on …
When I heard Babylon Village’s Argyle Theatre (located at 34 Main Street), Long Island’s newest year-round professional theatrical venue, was mounting a production of “Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical,” I was both surprised and giddy with excitement to learn my very favorite Christmas movie was actually a musical for the stage, with book, music and lyrics written by Meredith Willson of “The Music Man” fame.
What a way to kick off the holiday season! On Sunday, Dec. 1, 415 audience members obviously felt the same way. Executive producers of this classic, father and son team Mark and Dylan Perlman, proudly announced as they greeted everyone pre-show, “This is to date the largest audience we’ve had.”
For those who may not know the story, this version takes place in New York, 1961, first at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, where Kris Kringle—brilliantly played by Tony Triano—finds the Santa scheduled to ride on the Macy’s float falling down drunk. He calls the situation to the attention of parade organizer Doris Walker (Tiffan Borelli), who upon seeing the regal Kris, begs him to stand in. Obliging, he takes the reins and a tale of love, believing in one another, faith and hope takes off as dreams are realized and miracles come true for Doris, her neighbor Fred Gailey (Ira Kramer) and Doris’s precocious daughter, Susan (Cordelia Comando).
Triano’s Kris Kringle mesmerizes the audience from the moment he steps on stage in his dapper three-piece wool suit, adorned with a Christmas boutonniere. If you closed your eyes you’d think you were listening to the voice of the movie version’s Santa, Edward Gwenn. In fact, the voices of Galey, Doris, Judge Martin (Kyle Yamouro), and D.A. Mara (Jamie Forbes) channeled the voices of their counterparts in the original 1940s version of the movie, evoking a familiar, comforting sense memory. Speaking of voices, the singing of every character and the ensemble was exceptional. A complete pleasure to listen to. It’s no wonder Argyle bills itself as bringing Broadway to Babylon!
Two scenes stood out for me: the parade balloons floating above the audience and the scene where Kris hops around in a big white robe and bunny slippers, ultimately joined by Susan, and we’re treated to the tune “Pinecones and Holly Berries,” best known as “It’s Beginning To Look A lot Like Christmas.”
Director Evan Pappas expertly brings to life this beloved Christmas story with the help of an outstanding cast, many of whom are courtesy of the Actors’ Equity Association and a masterful team of professionals, including choreographer Valerie Wright, whose ensemble didn’t miss a step; musical director Jeff Cox’s engaging orchestrations, which playfully incorporated snippets of Willson’s signature “Music Man” horns; and Matsy Stinson’s beautifully detailed, authentic 1960s costumes in rich wools, plaids and tweeds that take us right back to that era.