Review: Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical

Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical; 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $17-$25 adults, $7-$12 children 17 and under. Woodland Opera House, 340 Second Street in Woodland; (530) 666-9617; Through December 20.
Rated 2.0

Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical is rarely performed these days—and it’s easy to see why. This Meredith Willson work, now being presented at the Woodland Opera House, does great disservice to the 1947 movie. The tone is uneven throughout, from exuberant to dull, the story line is choppy and the music, other than “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” is forgettable.

Additionally, Willson’s musicals generally rely on a lot of brass, and the Woodland production is hampered by a trumpeter not up to the task.

Still, the actors here do a wonderful job with the material.

Makenna Harding-Davis as young Susan Walker is outstanding and her scenes with Jeff Nauer, as Kris Kringle, are some of the best in the show.

Nauer, with rosy cheeks and a twinkle in his eye, could make anybody believe in Santa Claus.

Erik Catalan, as Fred Gailey, the man who wants to help Susan have a more normal childhood (despite their rather creepy relationship by 21st-century standards) is very good and holds the show together, though his scenes with Susan’s mother Doris (Crissi Cairns) extend the bounds of belief.

The shortcomings of this show should not be attributed to the Woodland Opera House, but to Meredith Willson. The cast and production crew here somehow still manage to make it fun.