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Vernon theatre rings in classic for 60th anniversary

Powerhouse Theatre presents Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical later in November
Kris Kringle (Jackson Mace), centre, gets a Christmas wish list from new friend Susan (role-shared by Shelby Wilson and Lucy Popowich, both pictured) in Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre’s production of Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical. (Contributed)

The first show of Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre’s milestone 60th season is like the theatre itself – a classic.

The theatre presents Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical, Nov. 23-27 at 7:30 p.m. (matinee Sunday, Nov. 27, 2 p.m.) and from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m., directed by Bob Oldfield with music, book, and lyrics by Meredith Willson.

The story, as in the wonderful 1947 holiday classic movie, follows Kris Kringle (Jackson Mace) who takes on the role of Santa at Macy’s Department Store in New York. He causes a sensation with his ‘Here’s Love’ Christmas message, which encourages department stores in New York to recommend their rivals to shoppers looking to buy particular holiday items. A concept not likely to be well received in today’s world.

Despite his success, Kringle ends up in court fighting a battle to prove he is really Santa, a claim he steadfastly holds to. Along the way he befriends young Susan (role-shared by youngsters Shelby Wilson and Lucy Popowich). Susan’s mother, Doris (Emily MacArthur), is responsible for giving Kringle his role at Macy’s, and yet she has brought up her daughter not to believe in such ‘illusions’ as Santa.

When charming aspiring lawyer Fred (Steve Friesen) comes on the scene to help Kringle fight his case, Susan plays matchmaker – attempting to connect Doris with the charming Fred, to create the father figure she has never known.

Oldfield and Mace – also the show’s assistant director – began the task of piecing together a cast of 26 back in June and they have been rehearsing since early in September.

Oldfield says that not every large cast bonds together, but is delighted that this is not so with this group.

“From the first rehearsal there was a connection that has grown into something of a family atmosphere, a real bonus in helping to create a heartwarming family story for the season,” he said.

Powerhouse, like all members of the arts community, was severely affected by the pandemic. They are hoping that with such a family oriented show the turnout will be high as theatre lovers get back to old ways.

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