The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 17, 2013

‘Miracle on 34th Street’ coming to Fayette County

— “Miracle on 34th Street” takes the Historic Fayette Theater stage at 8 p.m. Nov. 29. Additional performances of this classic, heartwarming holiday story will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 6, 7 and matinee performances at 2 p.m. Dec. 1 and 8.

The play opens with Doris Walker, Macy’s no-nonsense special events director, finding the actor hired to play Santa Claus intoxicated only moments before the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. In a panic, Doris persuades a nice old man who is standing nearby to take his place.

The kindly gentleman proves to be a sensation; he is so convincing and is quickly hired to be Macy’s official store Santa. Much to her dismay, Doris soon learns that her new hire, Kris Kringle, claims to be the real Santa. Despite her refusal to believe, many people begin to notice there is something very special about the old man, including her daughter Susan.

What ensues is an exciting courtroom drama that tests everyone’s belief in the magic and spirit of Christmas.

Director Gene Worthington has made adaptations to the play, choosing to set the story in modern day and adapting several of the supporting roles.

Megan Weatherford plays an assertive, yet sweet Doris Walker, whose past prevents her from truly connecting with her future. Her daughter, Susan, is played by Maya Mills, a young actress who is best described as bright-eyed, precocious and full of life. Will Weatherford (Me-gan’s real life husband) plays a sincere and gentle Fred Gayley and works well opposite the many mood changes of the Doris role.

Kris Kringle is played by Fayetteville’s own Santa, Steve Tyra, who gives a very authentic performance as the Santa we all know and love.

The supporting cast is equally engaging with various ensembles, from a group of unionized elves, to a pack of adults filling in whenever necessary. Melissa Garrison-Minter plays Judge Henrietta Harper with a remarkable attention to detail. Gary Reynolds charms the audience as the slightly frazzled, but always in control Mr. Shellhammer. Jennifer Garvin is also noteworthy as the stressed, yet strong, Charlene Halloran, Judge Harper’s campaign manager.

Be sure to come and get caught up in the story and the beauty of this play that sends home the message that, yes, the toys are important, but what’s essential is the belief in the magic of the season and the faith that things have a way of working out.

Tickets are $7 for seniors and children under 12; adult tickets are $10.

Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made at the theater from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays or by calling the 24/7 ticket line at 1-800-838-3006. Reservations can also be made conveniently online with a credit card at www.

Running time is approximately two hours with a 10-minute intermission. The matinee performances will have a special time after the show for the kids to come and have cookies with Santa and give him their Christmas list.