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'Miracle on 34th Street,' brings holiday cheer to life on stage

LANCASTER- “Miracle on 34th Street” is sure to charm both children and adults alike. It is a jolly tale of hope and faith that proves that nothing is impossible, if you truly believe.

With a sizeable cast of all ages, “Miracle on 34th Street” will bring a dose of holiday cheer to the Lancaster Opera House from Dec. 6 through Dec. 15, with shows on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

The show is adapted by Mountain Community Theater 
from the novel by Valentine Davies. It is based upon the 20th Century Fox motion picture “Miracle on 34th Street” and takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day in New York City. It begins when Kris Kringle stumbles upon an intoxicated Santa Claus who was meant to be the main attraction of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Soon Kris is handed the role of Santa Claus, and is so convincing he is asked to stay throughout the holiday season. Kris receives instructions to influence parents to buy surplus goods from Macy’s, but he ignores these commercial requests. Instead Kris’ focus is on the well being of his customers and even goes so far as to say that he himself is the real Santa Claus. Before long Kris is classified insane and faces trial to prove that he is the “one and only” Santa Claus.

Produced by The Mystery Company and directed by Jerry Kelly, who also stars as Kris Kringle, “Miracle on 34th Street” is a show for the entire family.

“It is a story that will boost people’s faith no matter what their faith is in,” remarked Richard Cole, who plays the role of Fred Gailey. “Whether is it religious faith, faith in your family, or faith in yourself, this is a story that shows how far someone will go for their beliefs. It is inspiring to all ages.”

A Niagara Falls native, Cole, has been acting for 14 years and is excited to be a part of a Christmas show this season.

“I have been in shows during Christmas, but not a Christmas production in several years,” he said. “I’ve always loved working with people and meeting new people. I’ve always loved being in front of an audience.”

Cole found his passion for acting at a very young age. Writing scripts with his brother and sister and performing at his home, he has grown to appreciate how a show or a character can affect his or someone else’s life.

“Every role gives you a different perspective on life and it really makes you see the bigger picture,” explained Cole. “And not every role is going to affect every person, but you will always have an affect on some people in the audience.”

From personal experience in working with children for about 10 years in different programs, Cole added every kid is always looking for something to love and to believe in and this story has both.

Only 10 years old, Autumn Cwick has performed in a few minor roles in the last two years, but with hard work and dedication she will take on one of the lead roles as Susan Walker.

“My dad told me about an audition at the Lancaster Opera House and I just decided to go for it,” said Cwick.

Currently, Cwick takes dance classes at Mod Dance Studio and from there she decided to take an acting class.

“After the first class, I decided acting was what I wanted to do,” said Cwick. “It makes you feel so good that you’re performing in front of all these people. And I think that even if some people think they wouldn’t like it, I think they should at least give acting a try.”

Before Cwick started the acting class, her and a friend used to put on shows for their families. Her dad built her a stage in the basement and with the use of her IPad, they would record videos they made and then show their parents. Bringing the whole aspect of the theater, they would even offer them snacks.

Cwick said she has a lot going on with school, after school classes, and rehearsals.

“It is kind of stressful, but… it is worth it when I’m on stage.”

Playing Susan’s mom, Doris Walker, Jamie Nablo of Buffalo, is bringing back some memories as she has performed in “Miracle on 34th Street” in high school.

She explained “Miracle on 34th Street” might seem like a trivial Christmas play, but the characters are a lot more complex that anyone would think and it is a wonderful show that anyone can relate too.

Acting professionally for 10 years, Nablo said her mom took her to see plays when she was younger and she remembers being Autumn’s age and looking up to the actors in the show who were doing all these great things.

“In high school, I joined the drama club and the first show I did was ‘Oklahoma.’ It had this magic,” remarked Nablo. “You travel everywhere without ever leaving your hometown. You have these beautiful stories that live with you long past the shows are over. It is something that once it gets a hold of you. You need to do it.”

The cast also features Marta Roiz, Bob Wagner, Leanne Troutman, Joe Laspro, Irma Lewis, Ian Rowlins, Stacy Kowal, Christina Morrow, Nancy Kelley, Penny Striker, Ed Cwick, Dan Barone, and Ernest Churchwell.

“Christmas shows are always the best,” remarked Nablo. “It is definitely something that people should come out and see. It is such a timeless Christmas show.”

Tickets are $20 per adult, $18 per student and senior, $13 for children 12 and under. The Lancaster Opera House Box Office is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before curtain on show nights.

The Lancaster Opera House is located on the second floor of the Lancaster Town Hall, 21 Central Ave., in Lancaster. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 683-1776 or on the web at www.LancOpera.org.



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