Miracle On 34th Street, The Musical
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Based on the 20th Century FoxPicture of the same name, with story by Valentine Davies and screenplay by George Seaton
Original Broadway run at Shubert Theatre – Opened October 3, 1963 (334 performances)
Meredith Willson’s Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical (originally titled Here’s Love) tells the tale of a skeptical little girl who doubts the existence of Santa Claus. When the real Kris Kringle inadvertently is hired to represent jolly St. Nick in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, he must convince the child and her cynical divorced mother (the department store’s special events director) that he’s the genuine article.
The Broadway production, directed by Stuart Ostrow and choreographed by Michael Kidd, opened on October 3, 1963 at the Shubert Theatre, and closed on July 25, 1964 after 334 performances and 2 previews. The cast included Laurence Naismith, Janis Paige, Craig Stevens, Lisa Kirk, Fred Gwynne, Kathy Cody, Michael Bennett, and Baayork Lee. The original director, Norman Jewison, was replaced by Ostrow, the producer, during rehearsals.
The Toronto Civic Light Opera Company has produced Here’s Love twice, with significant musical and book revisions by Artistic Director Joe Cascone. Their first production ran in December 1994, and a more elaborate staging was presented in December 2007.
The song “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas” was written by Willson in 1951 and used in the musical where it is sung in counterpoint to the newly composed “Pinecones and Holly Berries”.
This joyous musical proves that love makes the world go ‘round – especially at Christmas time.
Susan Walker’s mother, Doris, is in charge of staging the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Susan’s life is one of stark reality. Doris is divorced and is determined that no fantasies will ever allow her child to fall into any such disillusionment as her former marriage. Faith, hope, and men are strictly taboo. When the parade Santa gets drunk, Mr. Kris Kringle, a jolly man with a streaming natural white beard, pops up from nowhere. He is a big success in the parade and becomes Macy’s store Santa.
Meanwhile Susan has met Fred, a returning Marine veteran and hopeful law student. He befriends Susan even though Doris believes it’s a plot to get to her. Kris is a great Santa. He even tells mothers where to buy toys that Macy’s doesn’t sell. Mr. Macy is upset, but Doris sees a great promotional chance. Make Macy’s a friendly store in the true Christmas spirit. The plan is a huge success, but in the process, Kris admits that he is the real Santa Claus. His strange behavior wins him an interview with the store’s psychologist, Dr. Sawyer, who nearly goes mad trying to break down Kris’s story and wants to have him committed.
Susan and Kris have also become good friends. When Susan learns of Kris’s plight, she asks Fred to help defend him. The idea is seconded by Doris, who is discovering that Fred isn’t like the other men she has known. At the sanity hearing Mr. Macy testifies that Kris is Santa Claus. So does the prosecuting attorney’s little son. As a clincher Fred manages to get the U.S. Post Office to deliver all its “Dear Santa” letters to the courtroom.
The judge sees his chance to jump from his political hook and accepts the U.S. Government recognition as proof of Kris’s claim. Fred has won more than a hearing. He has won a prospective wife and daughter as well. With a tuneful score by Meredith Willson, Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical is the perfect family musical for all seasons.
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