“Miracle on 34th Street” will play on the Cutler Brothers stage in Deer Lodge Fridays through Sundays Dec 2 through 11, constituting the brothers' first-ever “holiday performance.”
The play is a Christmas comedy-drama based off the 1947 film written and directed by George Seaton and based on a story by Valentine Davies. The young Natalie Wood stole audience hearts as the role of candid Susan Walker.
The beloved holiday classic follows the story of the real Kris Kringle (Kyle Gillette) as he is bequeathed the job of Santa Claus at Macy’s Department Store after the original Santa Claus (Wolf Winters) shows up intoxicated. Kringle promises many children the gifts they wish for and tells their parents they can get better deals at other stores. Mr. Shellhammer (Josh Pentland) and Mrs. Walker (Erin Franzen) are befuddled at Kringle’s antics and take the matter straight to Mr. Macy (Zane Cozby). In the meantime, Mrs. Walker continues to explain to her daughter Susan (Izzy Savalla) that Santa Claus simply “does not exist.”
After “letting Mr. Kringle go,” Mrs. Walker discovers that business is popping at Macy’s due to the “fair and honest” Santa Claus directing customers to the best deals. Mr. Macy is ecstatic, and management scrambles to rehire Mr. Kringle at once with the stipulation that he be put under a psychiatric evaluation by the store’s vocational guidance counselor Mr. Sawyer (Kelly Cutler). A sub-story begins to erupt as Mrs. Walker finds herself falling for a New York defense attorney named Fred Gayley (Stuart Jewell).
Mr. Sawyer orders Mr. Kringle to be confined, after which the elves and store customers explode with annoyance. The whole ordeal winds up before the New York state court to discover if Mr. Kringle “truly is the real Santa Claus.” Mr. Gayley finds himself pinned against a tough prosecuting attorney in Mr. Mara (Darryl Barton) and a judge (Scott Grazier) only interested in re-election. Many show up for the case, and the outcome is vital to the Christmas spirit.
The Deer Lodge cast for “Miracle on 34th Street” is the largest the local entertainment company has ever seen with nearly 50 people taking the stage. Director Kelly Cutler said, “This is the first major holiday show we’ve ever done. I cannot believe the number of people that came out to participate.”
Technical director Matthew Cutler mirrored this sentiment: “During rehearsals, the theater looks like a sold-out crowd there are so many people and parents. It’s really going to be an amazing thing.”
“Miracle on 34th Street” will play Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from Dec. 2 through 11. Tickets are $15, and reservations are recommended for every show. Reservations are available at the Cutler Bros. box office, 406-846-4096. For more information, directions, or general questions, call the box office or visit cutlerbros.com.