Serving Some Sentiment, Straight Up or With a Twist : Purse Strings Pull at This ‘Miracle’


Some Christmas plays are heartwarming. Others are rib-tickling. Still others are time-wasting. Here are reviews of just a few of the holiday-themed theatrical offerings in Southern California.


Pocket-sized, with a shoestring budget and an uneven cast, “Miracle on 34th Street” at the tiny Actors Workout Studio, won’t make anyone forget that other “Miracle.”

The adaptation of Valentine Davies’ book, written by Tom Hall (who directs) and LL Young, is faithful enough, covering the high points--the hiring of mysterious Kris Kringle (veteran actor Bennes Mardenn, who looks remarkably authentic) as Macy’s Santa, the burgeoning romance between practical Doris (Laura Lynne Young) and idealistic lawyer Fred (Nick McGuire), Kris’ confrontation with store psychologist Mr. Sawyer (Victor Nawrocki), the conversion of little Susan (Rachel Alice) from pragmatist to dreamer and the Santa sanity hearing.


With the actors at varying levels of experience, however, and not yet comfortable with the play’s dialogue, the proceedings at a recent matinee were more earnest than involving. It wasn’t until the courtroom climax, with its case-clinching mail delivery, that the cast rallied as an ensemble and worked up some true holiday cheer.

* “Miracle on 34th Street,” Actors Workout Studio, 4735 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood . Saturdays, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Dec. 19-22, 2 p.m. Ends Dec. 22. $5-$12. (213) 662-7900. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.