Review: Heartfelt 'Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play' Brings Holiday Classic to the Stage

by Joe Siegel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday December 7, 2021

Jenny Whisenhunt in "Miracle on 34th Street"
Jenny Whisenhunt in "Miracle on 34th Street"  

"Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play" tells the beloved story of a department store Santa who turns out to be the real deal. The classic 1947 movie starred Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood, and Maureen O'Hara.

The Arctic Playhouse's production features a winning cast full of charm. The action takes place in a radio studio with some of the actors performing multiple roles.

Terry Simpson ("On Golden Pond") is perfectly cast as Kris Kringle, a cheerful and benevolent man who is hired to work at New York's famed Macy's.

In the process, he befriends single mother Doris Walker and her young daughter Susan (Grace Conti).

Meanwhile, the store's owner, R.H. Macy (a brassy Scott Conti) has a rivalry with another department store owner, Mr. Gimbal (Jeffrey Massery).

Doris' friendly neighbor Fred Gailey (Daniel J. Holmes), a lawyer, ends up representing Kringle in court after he is locked away in a mental hospital.

The show was adapted from the 1947 Lux Radio Broadcast by Lance Arthur Smith. Jon Lorenz wrote the songs. Ida Zecco directed.
The real standout was newcomer Jenny Whisenhunt, bringing a lot of charm and humor to the story as Doris.

Whisenhunt and Rose Racine, playing the roles of Dr. Pierce and Ms. Pronge, duet on many of the songs. Their vocal skills are impeccable.
Brian Lamothe ("A Christmas Carol") delivers solid supporting work as Mr. Shellhammer and the Judge.

Massery and Holmes display sharp comic timing and are a lot of fun to watch, as is Deb Belanger as a New York Mom and the abrasive Mrs. Mara.

Crosby Lowe, making his stage debut as young Tommy and multiple news boys, more than holds his own next to the more established actors around him.

Jim Belanger and Lloyd Felix's gorgeous set design and Nancy Spirito's beautiful costumes complement the action exquisitely.

"Miracle on 34th Street" celebrates generosity, compassion, and the belief in the improbable. Everyone has doubts about Kris Kringle's claims that he is Santa Claus. It takes one person who is willing to trust their faith to bring about love and peace. There's no better message than that for the holidays.


"Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play" runs through December 19. The Arctic Playhouse. 1249 Main Street. West Warwick, RI. For tickets, call 401-573-3443 or visit thearcticplayhouse.com.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.