“Miracle on 34th Street is my favorite Christmas movie,” said Mandy Woodhouse. She plays Doris Walker, the cynical Macy’s Department Store special events coordinator who doesn’t believe the store Santa she’s hired is actually Santa Claus.
While stage and screen versions of the same tale can vary tremendously, director Thurmond Whatley said this production stays true to the 1947 film starring Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood.
“It includes all of the scenes, and the storyline follows the movie. It’s one of the favorites at Christmas, and it will follow what you are expecting,” he said.
The production brings several newcomers to the ACP stage. It’s Woodhouse’s first Aiken production, and it’s Jimmy Moore’s debut with ACP, also. Moore plays Fred Gailey, the attorney who believes Kris Kringle and defends him in court.
Moore has performed with the annual Aiken Heart Benefit, but only auditioned for Miracle on 34th Street because of his three daughters, Heather, Rebecca and Samantha.
“They wanted to audition,” he said. “My oldest is an elf, and my two youngest are in the youth ensemble.”
Sharing the stage with the girls brings a magical quality to the show, and he’s glad to have landed the role of Fred. He has something in common with the character.
“I still believe in Santa Claus,” Moore said. “I think most adults want to believe.”
Another believer is Maggie O’Leary, an Aiken Elementary School fourth-grader, who plays Doris’ skeptical daughter, Susan.
“She’s a lot like me, but I believe in Santa,” Maggie said.
Miracle on 34th Street will be performed for three weekends. Throughout the run, ACP will accept donations of nonperishable food items for Golden Harvest Food Bank.
Miracle on 34th Street will be staged at 8 p.m. Nov. 23, 24 and 30, Dec. 1, 7 and 8 and 3 p.m. Dec. 2 and 8 at Aiken Community Playhouse, 126 Newberry St. SW in downtown Aiken. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for ages 60 and older; $12 for students and $7 for children under age 12. Call (803) 648-1438 or visit aikencommunityplayhouse.com.