‘Miracle on 34th Street’ comes to Milford’s Riverfront Theatre

Minor Hardin plays the man claiming to be Kris Kringle and Noelle Snyder is Susan Walker, his smallest biggest fan, in The Second Street Players’ production of “Miracle on 34th Street,” starting Friday at The Riverfront Theatre in Milford. (Submitted photo)

MILFORD — Santa Claus is coming to town and his identity is under scrutiny at Riverfront Theatre.

The Second Street Players will tell the classic holiday tale “Miracle on 34th Street” in Milford starting tonight.

Under the auspices of director Steven Haber and assistant director Melissa Brenner, the show will be performed today and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $17. A $1 discount for seniors and students is available for Sunday matinees.

The story follows a little girl, her nonbeliever mom, and their lawyer neighbor as they defend the existence of Santa Claus in a New York City courtroom.

“It’s a beautiful story. It’s a story about what Christmas is about with interesting twists along the way,” Mr. Haber said.

Cast members range from a 9-year-old to a couple of actors in their 70s and everyone else somewhere in between.

While some actors are so young they had not yet seen the any of the film versions before auditioning for their part, others are new to acting, like Kris Kringle himself.

Minor Hardin of Hartly will act as the man who may or not be Santa Claus in his stage debut, a large role that he knows well.

“I think it’s the perfect story for the season. I think it’s good for the people to realize there’s a lot of Sawyers in the world,” he said of Granville Sawyer, who has an immediate disliking for Kris Kringle while conducting a psychological evaluation on the Macy’s Santa and later lies to have him institutionalized at Bellevue Hospital.

“And I don’t have anything else to do since I’m not Santa Claus across the street this year.”

An already busy Mr. Hardin, who is the chief engineer and a volunteer ambulance driver for the American Legion Ambulance Station 64, can now add community theatre to his list of skills and hobbies.

“I’ve always been in awe of the volunteers across the street [at the Santa Claus House]. And they’re doing the same thing here. They’re doing everything they can to make it work. I just love the people of Milford. They’re good people here,” he said in admiration for the volunteers at Riverfront Theatre.

Ms. Brenner of Dover is also volunteering in a new role for “Miracle on 34th Street.” She stepped up to the plate in her first assistant director role this season.

“It’s a Christmas play and they’re always fun. And I really wanted to work with Steven,” she said.

This is her third Christmas play with Second Street Players. Her first time working with the theatre company was five years ago when she took part in “Anybody Home.”

“This is definitely my theatre of choice. Once you do one show here, they become family,” she said.

As a group, the Second Street Players hasn’t performed the play since 2005. Other popular shows performed by actors at the theatre and directed by Mr. Haber include “A Christmas Story” three years ago and “It’s a Wonderful Life” four years ago. He also directed “Nunsense” last year.

“When I saw this, I jumped to ask if I could direct it,” Mr. Haber said. “There’s not many really great Christmas plays, but this is certainly one of them. It was adapted from the movie by another community theatre group, which is helpful.”

“I hope they’re entertained. We perform right after Thanksgiving. I love when we can transition smoothly from one holiday to the next. I hope they believe, maybe not in Santa, but in hope, generosity and love. No matter where we lean to, we all need that,” Mr. Haber said.

Mr. Hardin, or Kris Kringle, had another hope for the show.

“Maybe Santa Claus had something to do with this play. In my heart, I think what’s going on here is real. Call me crazy. I’m glad I’ve been given the opportunity to do this. I really am. I just want the kids to have a Merry Christmas,” he said.

The Riverfront Theater is at 2 S. Walnut St., Milford. Tickets can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by calling the box office at 800-838-3006. For more information visit secondstreetplayers.com.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached
at jantonik@newszap.com.

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