This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour saw Miracle on 34th Street with thanks to The Old Joint Stock.
For Interval Theatre on Brum Radio, Dave Massey spoke to the cast of Miracle on 34th Street at The Old Joint Stock. Listen here:
By Eleanor Lawson twitter.com/Elle_Lawson
Miracle on 34th Street at
The Old Joint Stock
Directed by Karl Steel and Adam Lacey, adapted by Lance Arthur Smith
If you couldn’t already tell from all the crowds heaving for a half-a-metre long Frankfurter, Christmas has come to Birmingham. You’d be hard-pressed to find a festive theatre show for the family, but as always the Old Joint Stock is doing something unique. Until Christmas Eve, they are bringing us Miracle on 34th Street, a live musical radio play that brings the audience into the heart of the show alongside the actors.
You’re treated as a live audience for a broadcast at fictional KSDMT radio station, asked to applause and wished Merry Christmas individually by Kris Kringle himself. There’s a perverse joy in seeing behind the scenes of a production, which is why the play within a play trope is so popular. We love feeling like we’re part of the show itself, which is why some of the biggest laughs come from the actors holding props to the microphones to make sound effects. It’s oddly magnetic watching cornflakes, cutlery, and high heels being rustled and banged together to maintain the illusion of the story for the imaginary listeners.
For those unaware of the film’s plot, Macey’s events director Doris Walker (played flawlessly by Sam Carlyle) has to fire her Santa for the famous parade for turning up drunk and disorderly. When the perfect replacement taps her on the shoulder in the form of Kris Kringle (Kerry Frater), she’s unable to refuse. Pragmatic divorcee Doris has raised her daughter Susan (played by Isabel Whichello at this performance, alternating with Millie Taylor and Lucinda Mullen) not to believe in Father Christmas so as not to set her up with a fantasy of the world that will hurt her when it shatters. But it’s hard to remain cynical when Kris Kringle is around, and it’s down to the two of them to prove that Kringle really is Santa Claus when he’s taken to court, armed only with their belief in him.
The well-known story is interrupted sporadically with just as entertaining advertisements, juxtaposing the tweeness of Tupperware with adverts for the American military. A show highlight is the husky, rasping advert for Camels cigarettes that oozes glamour through the radio, and when the advert claims Santa himself endorses them, Kris Kringle shakes his head in the background.
The whole cast excels and their vocals are quite frankly astonishing, especially important in a radio play. Most of the cast multi-roles and they veer between brilliant impersonations and sweet singing with ease. Most importantly, it’s not too saccharine, with a resonating message about corporate over-commercialisation of the festive season. If you’re looking for something different for your Christmas show, don’t miss out on this.
Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play is at The Old Joint Stock until 24th December. Book tickets here: oldjointstock.co.uk/whats-on/miracle-on-34th-street