POSTED ON DECEMBER 1, 2010:
Do You Believe in Miracles?
Veteran playwright and lyricist gets into Christmas spirit
Do you believe? Purgason said they decided to choose Miracle on 34th Street because itís ďa wonderful show written by a team of local writers with a great message. The theme of the show is believing in miracles, something we can all use right now...Ē
Christmas shows are a can't-miss part of the holiday season, and Cascia Hall ushers in the first opportunity to enjoy one.
Cascia Hall's Scianna Performing Arts Center will present Miracle on 34th Street this weekend, Dec. 3-5, in the Helmerich Theater. It's a musical version of the story that has not been seen in Tulsa since 2004.
An extra-special treat, the playwright and lyricist Vern Stefanic is directing the musical.
Cascia Hall Performing Arts director Meredith Ellis Purgason got Stefanic involved in the project. She had been serving on the Tulsa Awards for Theatre Excellence committee with him, and they spoke about wanting to produce Miracles at the school.
"Then I thought about what a great experience it would be for our student actors to get to work on a show with the writer present at rehearsals -- since that's the way most new shows are developed, but high school students rarely get the opportunity to work that way," Purgason said. "So I asked Vern if he would direct and he said yes."
Stefanic co-wrote Miracle on 34th Street with composer Doug Smith in 1994, and it has since been performed all over the United States. Stefanic has also written Tom Sawyer -- A Musical Adventure and Sherry's Turn.
Miracle on 34th Street is based on the beloved holiday novel by the same title, written by Valentine Davies. The story surrounds Macy's department store on 34th Street, and their newly hired Santa Claus: a man by the name of Kris Kringle.
When Kris Kringle starts affecting the customers, it causes in a shift in Christmas commercialism altogether, upsetting Macy's manager, Doris Walker. Macy's Doctor Sawyer suggests that Kris Kringle is mentally unwell, and has him committed to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital. All hope rests on lawyer Fred Gailey (who happens to be in love with Doris Walker), to free Kris Kringle by proving that Santa Claus really does exist.
The cast is made up of 20 Cascia Hall students (grades 6-12), as well as one Cascia faculty member, two Marquette students, and two Elliot students. Auditions were held in September, and students have been rehearsing since October.
The role of Kris Kringle is provided by faculty member Jim Boatwright, Cascia Hall's Fine Arts Department Chair and MS Music instructor. Secretary of the Drama Club and 12th grade student Margo Winchester will play Doris Walker. Winchester has been involved in Cascia's theatre program since 6th grade.
In his third major role, 10th grade student Walker McKinney will play Fred Gailey. McKinney said that he has "really enjoyed the experience of the collaborative process that comes from working with the show's writer."
Playing Doris Walker's daughter Susan is Annika Soderfelt, a Cascia sixth-grader. Soderfelt shares that she has enjoyed working on this show because "even though I am the youngest lead, I still get treated like a professional like everyone else."
Purgason said they decided to choose Miracle on 34th Street because it's "a wonderful show written by a team of local writers with a great message. The theme of the show is believing in miracles, something we can all use right now ... we wanted to be a part of bringing this Tulsa tradition back home." The musical is performed in conjunction with Cascia Christmas Walk, a festival hosted by Cascia Hall every holiday season. This year the walk will take place just before the last performance of Miracle on 34th Street, Dec. 5 from noon until 4:30pm. The Christmas walk will feature a boutique with more than 70 vendors, a tour of Cascia's Chapel, Monastery, and Performing Arts Center all decorated for the holidays, as well as pictures with Santa and lunch available at the Cascia Café.
Miracle on 34th Street will be performed Dec. 3-4 at 7pm and Dec. 5 at 5pm. Advance tickets for the show are $5-10 and can be purchased at smarttix.com. Tickets at the door are $10-15 and the on-site box office opens one hour before the performance.
Also This Week
Living Arts offers a "Dance/Yoga/Drumming Workshop" Dec. 4, led by Jessica Sims & Kristen Ruyle. Experience rowdy dance and relaxing yoga with movement/yoga instructor Jessica Sims and percussionist Kristen Ruyle. Ruyle plays the Djembe for rhythmic timing as Sims leads dance and yoga "to unify the mind and body." Sims has a degree in dance and is a certified yoga instructor. Ruyle has been playing Afro-Cuban instruments for eight years. The workshop takes place Dec. 4, 7-8:30pm, at Living Arts, 307 E. Brady, just east of downtown. All ages and skill levels welcome. $10 at the door.
Playhouse Theatre Tulsa will be performing A Charlie Brown Christmas Dec. 9-12 at the Liddy Doenges Theatre of Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The story follows Charlie Brown as he tries to find the true meaning of Christmas, in spite of the crazy antics of everyone around him, including his dog Snoopy. The show was written by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz with music by Vince Guaraldi. Shows are Dec. 9-12 at 7:30pm and Dec. 11-12 at 2pm. For tickets, visit tulsapac.com.
Tulsa PAC will also show The Nutcracker, Dec. 11-23, as well as the American Theatre Company's performance of A Christmas Carol Dec. 9-23. For tickets and details, visit tulsapac.com.
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