[Photos provided by Bennorth Images]
[Lara Crowley (from left) and her 9-year-old daughter, Marianne, appear with Patrick Deering in the Albright Community Theatre production of "Miracle on 34th Street."]
BATAVIA – "Miracle on 34th Street," a holiday favorite that plays right to the heart, is presented by Albright Community Theatre in Batavia weekends through Dec. 15.
"It conveys a story of faith and belief in Santa Claus," director Elizabeth Hilgart of Aurora said of the play based on the famous film.
In the story, Kris Kringle, an old man in a retirement home, gets a job as Santa for Macy's. His later claim to be the real Santa spurs Macy's vocational counselor to plot to have Kris shanghaied to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, leading to a dramatic court competency hearing.
Among the core characters are Doris Walker and her young daughter, Susan.
"I'm really blessed to have Lara and Marianne [Crowley of Geneva], a real-life, mother-and-daughter team, playing a fictional mother-and-daughter team," Hilgart said, noting the depth their relationship adds to their interactions on stage. "[And] Rich LeCropane [of Oswego] does a fabulous job as Kris Kringle."
Hilgart directs a large cast of newcomers, including children, along with Albright veterans such as Jeannine Collins of Carol Stream, one of the theater's founding members, portraying Mrs. Parker, and Regis Snyder of Batavia as the judge.
"It's been a joy to work with this group of people," she said, thanking all the actors and volunteers who teamed up to bring the play to the stage.
One of those volunteers started out thinking he would be working strictly on set design and set dressing for such visuals as the Santa area of Macy's and its holiday window.
But Patrick Deering of North Aurora, formerly of Batavia, would be cast in the role of Fred Gailey, an attorney.
"I happen to be the neighbor of the mother and daughter and then become the person that is responsible for defending Kris Kringle and proving that he is not insane and that he is the one and only Santa Claus," Deering said.