The Holidays Start Early

Starting on Friday, December 10th, the Racine Theatre Guild will show their rendition of the 1947 Christmas classic, Miracle on 34th Street. This play will show until December 19th.

Miracle on 34th Street tells the story of a man named Kris Kringle (played by Ron Halvorsen), who claims that he is the real life Santa Claus. Doris Walker (played by Jamie Johnson) asks Kris to be the Santa at the Macy’s store where she works. She has taught her daughter Susan to not believe in Santa or anything out of the ordinary. However, Kris and Fred Gailey (played by Brian Schalk) do not agree with Doris. This is due to the fact that she is such a young girl; it takes away her childhood. Throughout the story, the people wonder whether or not Kris is actually Santa, or just an old person who has lost his mind.

I got the chance to sit down with the director of the play, Douglas Instenes, and talk to him about the direction he took with the adaptation. He told me he stuck with the original plot and dialogue of the story, but blended certain locations together. He did this by taking certain discussions that take place outside, and making them inside discussions.

We also talked about how this is his second, and final, adaptation of the play (the first adaptation showed last year). He said that there are some things in the second adaption that he changed, and were not in the first adaptation. There are more female actresses in this version, so male roles became female roles; Mr. Sawyer became Ms. Sawyer, for example. The snow is more dimensional this time, and there is less snow, because last time too much snow made it look too cold. They also have a snowfall at the end to add more of a Christmas feel to it. “Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to,” Doug states this as the theme of the play, which is also a quote from the play itself.

Parkside’s own Kate Christensen performs multiple roles in the play. She portrays a photographer and also sings in the ensemble. This is her second time performing in the play, and she has been with the Racine Theatre Guild since middle school. She does an outstanding job in both roles, given the fact that they are not major roles.

Given the opportunity to see the play before the actual opening, December 10th, I can say that you should see this for the holidays. The ensemble sings the Christmas carols with such an angelic voice that your heart just melts. Ron Halvorsen portrays Kris Kringle so well, that it was hard to remember he was just an actor in real life. Jenna Zeihen shows a perfect mixture of innocence and seriousness playing the role of Susan. It is a Christmas classic with plenty of emotion, comedy, and family warmth that is perfect for the holiday season.

The play will be showing at the Racine Theatre Guild, located at 2519 Northwestern Avenue in Racine. Show times for the play are December 10th: 7:30 pm, December 11th: 2:00 and 7:30 pm, December 12th: 2:00 pm, December 17th: 7:30 pm, December 18: 2:00 and 7:30 pm, and December 19th: 2:00 pm.

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