Miracle on 34th Street (the 1994 Richard Attenborough version) is one of my all time favourite Christmas movies. So when I had the opportunity to go along to see The Birmingham and Midland Operatic Society’s musical version, I jumped at the chance. I was hoping the show would help me to get in the mood to kick off the festive season. I was also looking forward to night off mummy duties with a cheeky glass of mulled wine.
The show is based on Meredith Wilson’s 1963 Broadway Musical and is running at the New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham from 14th-18th November. Having not been previously aware of the musical version I was intrigued to see how it compared to my nostalgic memories of this feel good, heart warming classic.
Overall I did enjoy the show, although for me the story wasn’t quite as convincing in parts as I’d have hoped. At times it felt as though the musical elements got in the way of the depth that the story could have portrayed. The ending for me in the courthouse wasn’t as magical and encaptivating as I’d have hoped, it felt as though it all ended a little abruptly.
That being said the singing of the cast was uplifting and they performed Christmas classics such as ‘It’s beginning to look at a lot like Christmas.’ For those numbers where the whole cast were on stage, that’s when for me the magic came to life to perform those big numbers with masses of passion and enthusiasm bringing to life Suzi Rudd’s choreography and direction. I also really enjoyed the dance elements of the show and felt that the energy of the performers was maintained as consistently high throughout the evening.
I enjoyed the show visually and they made clever and effective use of the set design to bring the New York scenery to life, along with a range of brightly coloured costumes. The big finale was a theatrical affair with the audience being showered in falling snow to really bring on the Christmas feeling.
I thought all of the cast did an excellent job however the stand outs for me were Willow Heath as Susan Walker, Jo Smith as Doris Walker and Stewart Keiller as Kris Kringle.
7 year old Willow’s performance was charming, sweet and captivating as young Susan who starts the show not believing in Father Christmas. She played the role well and definitely made me think of Mara Wilson’s performance in the film as the intelligent, witty and thoughtful character.
For me Jo was the star of the show in terms of singing performances, she has a beautiful voice and held me captive during her solo numbers. I also felt that she and Willow worked well together and their relationship as mother and daughter was convincing.
Stewart as Kris Kringle was a clever casting. For me he looked and sounded remarkably similar to Richard Attenborough, perhaps that was the big hit for me as it helped me make the connection back to the film. I really enjoyed his portrayal of the jolly, kind hearted Father Christmas.
The show was fun and would make a great outing for families in the run up the Christmas, however I do feel it would be more suitable for older children. I had an entertaining evening out and left feeling uplifted and ready to embrace the festive season, well done to the cast and crew of BMOS.
Tickets for the show can be booked through the box office here.
All photos are courtesy of Ariane Photo Studio
Disclaimer: I was invited to attend the performance as part of the Brum Bloggers group however, all views and opinions are entirely my own.