There is nothing better than being in the audience of a show that has everyone laughing, clapping, smiling, and just really enjoying the show. That was the experience of all those attending opening night of the Michael Disher directed, Center Stage Production of “Miracle on 34th Street, A Live Musical Radio Play,” at the Southampton Cultural Center. This Christmas show is truly a much-needed gift to a theatrical community post Covid-19 shutdown. At the end of opening night, the audience stood and cheered with great enthusiasm.
If you have seen the movie, you pretty much know the story. What was surprising is how through the “radio play” concept Director Michael Disher was able to get his cast to create a magical, high-energy production that created a new experience viewing the show.
Daniel Becker, as he has so many other times on east end stages was superb as Kris Kringle (Santa Claus.) Mr. Becker is a unique talent. He can just raise an eyebrow and make an audience laugh. The Southampton Cultural Center Stage is his home and he struts about it with supreme confidence and command. While many read scripts on stands, Daniel Becker most of the time delivered his lines perfectly without glancing at the lines on the pages. He was the crowd favorite, but not the only one.
The chemistry and magic that Jack Seabury (Fred Gailey) and Mary Sabo (Doris Walker) have on stage is very special and added so much to the show.
Anytime anyone attends a musical a few things stand out such as who can really sing, and who just captures the stage. Mary Sabo’s (Mrs. Walker) beautiful singing voice made the songs she sang, either the solos or with the troupe, come to life with sweetness, softness, power, and sensitivity that the audience appreciated with their applause.
The surprise performance of the show was Ms. Emma Hand. She played the young girl (Susan Walker.) Her stage presence, her glow, her clear speaking voice and even her confidence moving around the stage singing was contagious. Her talent became more prevalent throughout the show. If she chooses, she will have quite a long, wonderful future on the stage and perhaps screen.
Every show must have a villain and John Lovett (Sawyer) did not disappoint. Christopher Tyrkko portrayed R.H. Macy flawlessly. He was so good at being commercially driven; the audience applauded his abilities. Richard Adler showed his ability to capture a scene with his multiple roles as did Michaal Lyn Schepps, who also has a wonderful singing voice.
Susan Cincotta, Jack Seabury, and Joey Giovingo played all their roles with wonderful energy and sang with panache. John Lovett among his other roles was fantastic as the (Narrator) as well as singing with the Troupe.
Musical Director, Amanda Jones brought out the best is song from the cast and was also excellent Georgia Manchester.
Kudos and accolades for both Joey Giovingo (Stage Management) and Daniel Schappart (Lighting Design) as well as Andrew Herzman (Sound Design.)
The play runs through December 12. Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Please check for any last-minute changes on Sunday show times. This holiday tradition is a perfect family outing. General Admission tickets are $25 ($20 for ages under 21) are available at scc-arts.org or by calling 631 287-4377.
The Southampton Cultural Center is located on 25 Pond Lane, Southampton. Per COVID-19 policy, all visitors and attendees must wear masks and performers, when not on stage, must wear masks. The cast and crew are fully vaccinated.