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It’s a miracle on West Cherokee Street

Brookhaven Little Theatre will deliver a package of holiday music, characters and colors during its two-weekend run of “Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical,” which begins this weekend at the historic Haven Theater in downtown Brookhaven. The cast and crew present the traditional tale of the original story but with a few plot turns, a live orchestra and familiar, hometown faces who faithfully entertain.

Counting cast and crew, close to 50 community members bring the story — made a household name from the original movie — to life on the Haven’s stage. Celeste Lowery and Sarah Underwood serve as co-directors on the project, sharing responsibilities along the way to guide volunteers toward delivering a memorable, heartwarming experience for audiences.  

“This show is certainly something that everyone should make room in their schedule to come see. The movie has been around a long time and people are probably pretty familiar with that but the play offers some differences here and there, so it is really worth seeing,” said Sharon Ellis, cast member.

The story is set in New York City during the iconic Thanksgiving Day parade as the Christmas season begins to unfold. As the play progresses, a store in need of a Santa, a Santa in need of making wishes come true and more than one character in need of restored faith — as well as a budding love story — all begin to unravel as little gifts for the audience.

“We want the audience to leave feeling hopeful. This play touches on some surprisingly serious topics for a playful musical,” said Lowery. “The leading female character has experienced abandonment and heartbreak and because of this she lost her faith. She doesn’t trust or believe in others and watching that slowly change is uplifting. Audiences will find themselves laughing in some scenes and wanting to shed a tear in others. The play is written to cover a wide range of emotions.”

Raven Brent, 21, playing “Ms. Shellhammer,” said the experience in the BLT production has helped solidify her desire to pursue a career in performance.

“This is my very first play acting in a stage production and it has been life changing. I hope to perform for a living one day and this theater has given me such a positive experience as a starting point,” Brent said.

Underwood said that challenges do come with such a large cast but every step is worthwhile in the end. Every member of the cast, even the youngest, contributes to the overall story, she said.

“For instance, the children do not just walk on, do a song and then walk off never to be seen again. They are an integral part of the story line and flow in and out throughout the show,” stated Underwood. “Every single person has at least one line. Our lead characters cover the entire spectrum of well-experienced to never having sung onstage except at church. It’s a great variety with lots of good chemistry.”

Cast and crew member Shaw Furlow knows personally how the involvement of several of his fellow cast members relate to real family. Furlow is one of three cast/crew members whose parents were among the original founders of Brookhaven Little Theatre 50 years ago,

“It is neat to have a connection to a place that your parents had such an important part in so many years ago. Being in a play is like forming a new family each time and this cast is no exception,” Furlow said. “The highlights of the production are the big song and dance numbers, they are so full of energy. Families and friends don’t want to miss out seeing this.”

The show will run through this weekend and Dec 8, 9, and 10 with night performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be bought online anytime or at the door about 30 minutes prior to each show. Souvenir T-shirts will also be available for sale and concessions at intermission. Visit www.brookhavenlittletheatre.com for more information.

Story by JoAnna Sproles