Come Thanksgiving Day this year, many of you, like me, will wake up early to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The famous New York City celebration has nestled its way into the hearts – and films – of many. Northern California will get a double dose of the celebration this year, as the Gallo Center for the Arts hosts the touring production of a musical based on the classic film "Miracle on 34th Street," which follows a family as its cinical Christmas beliefs are challenged by the appearance of the real Santa Claus.
BroadwayWorld sat down with the Broadway-style shows' Kris Kringle, Fred Mackaman, and the production's director, John Tsayfoyannis. Read the interview below!
Harmony: Most people have seen the movie, and those that haven't only need to know that the classic film has all the feel good moments that come with an old-fashioned Christmas movie. So what do audiences need to know about this production?
John: It's a family show. Three year olds to 92 year olds. The story is about hope, faith in things that you cannot immediately see, but believe and then something good will happen in your life. There's dancing, sets, singing. The story is lovely. It's about believing in something and ultimately reaching it. Kris is the facilitator who makes that possible.
Fred: If [audiences are] familiar with the film, the story and characters are very faithful to that – enhanced by music and full color and choreography. It's a spin on that classic tale. Fans of MerEdith Wilson's music ("The Music Man," "The Unsinkable Molly Brown"), they'll be pleased to hear that same style.
Harmony: Aside from creating the classic holiday environment, what is the general feel of the show and its music?
Fred: Very, very high energy singing and dancing. The melodies have a classic American feel. That's what makes this Christmas story stand out. It's a real American setting. The film was contemporary when it came out. It was not a period piece. It's been a while since we had a Christmas tale that takes place in contemporary time. Our stage production is set in the 1940s.
John: The feels is the 40s. The musical was written with a lot of 60s music, but I've been able to get permission to use famous songs written in 40s, incorporating a lot of that swing, jazz, mood music.
Harmony: How does the musical differ from or relate to the various film versions?
Fred: The basic story will look very familiar. [Audiences are] going to notice the difference right away. It's more stylized.
John: The basic difference is that one is a musical and one is not.
Harmony: Why tell the story in the form of a musical?
John: Music explains feelings, moments, moods, and it enhances the story a lot. It makes the up moments higher and the down moments more downer, if that's a word.
Fred: I've often been bothered when people try to recreate something. We're not trying to remake the movie, but to take that story in a new and different way. Much like Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet became West Side Story. Retelling, not remaking. We're adding music, song, choreography, new life to an already classic story
Harmony: What makes the show so appealing to audiences? How does it appeal to you?
John: When you deal with a single mother with a daughter over the holidays and the mother is so hurt in her life, and she's trying to get her daughter away from anything that may hurt her in life, and you finally see this person come into her life and change that attitude and find happiness; that's pulling the heartstrings.
Fred: It's a time of year. The setting is familiar to all Americans. The idea of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. People can relate to that. It's a part of American culture regardless of religious faith or sense of importance of Christmas tradition or holiday. It's exciting to do, to be on stage working through this plot. The film is a little older than I am. It's something I've seen many times over my years and cherish very much. It's an honor to step into those shoes.
Harmony: Any special holiday wishes you want to greet BroadwayWorld's readers with? What's your Christmas message to Northern California?