Meridian Little Theatre will officially kick off the holiday season with “Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical”, which opens Thursday, Dec. 9 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 12.
Director Tiffany McGehee says the MLT cast and crew have quite a treat in store for audience members.
“I took all the warm and fuzzy memories of Christmas in New York City where my husband and I lived while he completed seminary, and combined them with a musical that mixes reality and fantasy,” she said. “When you walk through the MLT lobby doors, we have faith that you will suspend your disbelief – willingly – and play pretend with us.”
“Miracle on 34th Street” tells the story of a single mother, Doris Walker, who doesn't want her six-year-old daughter Susan's head filled with romantic notions. Their neighbor, Fred Gailey, tries to woo Doris by charming Susan and taking her to see Santa Claus at Macy's, where Doris works.
Doris is not impressed, but when it turns out that Macy's Santa may, in fact, be the real Kris Kringle, a wave of love spreads across New York City that melts even the most cynical hearts.
Newton resident Kat Grisham plays the role of Judge Group. Grisham, who teaches English and Theatre at Forest High School, was last seen in MLT’s “Guys and Dolls,”
“My character is put in a tough spot when she is asked to rule on whether or not Kris Kringle is Santa Claus” Grisham says. “Many of my favorite memories are Christmas memories.”
“My great-grandmother, my Pawpaw, Mamaw Sue loved Christmas, and while they are no longer with us, it’s this time of year when I feel the closest to them. Getting a chance to be in this show and be a part of Christmas memories made by our audience member is something really special.”
Paul Spurlin, a professor of finance at Mississippi State University-Meridian, plays two roles in the production.
“I am the drunk Santa in the first act, but I have a larger role in Act 2 as the district attorney intent on declaring Kris Kringle mentally unstable,” he said. “This character is not a bad guy; he is motivated by false information he has received about this jolly fellow.”
“It’s such a touching production,” Spurlin emphasized. “Sometimes, when I sit out in the audience waiting for my turn at rehearsal, I genuinely become emotional. I am enjoying the whole MLT experience with this one. I live in Bay Springs, but I never mind putting in the time after work to be a part of this wonderful play,” he says.
Miracle on 34th Street also features the talents of local businesses. Al’s Garden and Gift, Over the Moon Children’s Boutique, Point, and Meridian Rails Historical Society helped provide merchandise, a working train, and décor for our Macy’s window displays.
Lucy Dormant, Director of the Meridian Railroad Museum, says they helped provide a winter wonderland complete with model trains belonging to Dr. Richard Abney, Gerald Mabry, and Dr. Jim Purdy.
“These model trains, along with Dr. Purdy’s Christmas village, would normally be found at the Meridian Railroad Museum,” she said. “These folks spent countless hours putting these pieces together to give the stage an authentic feel.”
Brette Harman, one of the owners of Over the Moon Children’s Boutique, said they had great fun creating a Macy’s-style window.
Wanda Pugh and Robyn Hancock will get in on the fun representing Al’s Garden and Gifts.
Al Davis, the owner, says they will be decorating one of the Macy’s windows, adding a nutcracker and a frosted Christmas tree.
“It will be fun to see this MLT play,” Davis said. “I know it will get us all in the Christmas spirit. I am glad so many local businesses have come together to help with this set.”
McGehee encourages the young and the young at heart to attend the production as they prepare for this holiday season.
“My hope is that this set will look and feel like an Advent calendar, Christmas pop-up book, and Macy’s window display, all rolled into one,” she said. “Of course, your common sense will tell you some things on this stage are ridiculous, but as you balance your faith and reason, know that we have poured love into this production. Our hope is this love translates into the miraculous exchange of energy that only happens during live theatre and brings you wonder, joy, and. peace.”
For information on tickets, visit www.meridianlittletheatre.com or call 601-482-6371.