By Jamie Bullins
Olde Glory Theatre, Thursday, December 9, 2021, 7:00 pm.
So, it’s time to kick your proverbial grinch right in the tochus. It’s the time of year for miracles, right? This morning on the way to work, this one light that’s never green when I get to it was, guess what, green and inviting. Miracles don’t have to be the size of x-ray machines or new houses. They can be super small, and, sometimes, if you don’t look hard for them, you can miss them altogether. Keep your eyes open, and if you need a reminder, which we all do, head over to Seward’s Olde Glory Theatre and their production of Miracle on 34th Street.
If I’m not mistaken, it’s directors Rory Nolan and Megan Boggs first time at the helm, and you wouldn’t know it. From my conversation with Megan after the show, it was a project filled with miracles, even finding them without an actor for Kris Kringle two days before rehearsals began. Their diligence paid off: Jonathan Lobmeyer was exceptional in the role. His charm, comfort, and demeanor made him believable as this larger-than-life character that has influenced millions over centuries. No small task.
I could list numerous standout moments from the show that would warm the very cockles of your heart, but would prefer to encourage you to experience them for yourself. I can’t resist, however, to mention a few. It all starts when our drunken Santa (Ken Baldinger, also Mr. Macy) stumbles onto the scene and clearly informs us where it is that he believes the Christmas spirit resides. Then there’s the moment when the anxious children (including the entirety of the Janda clan – this is true community theatre) line up to express their Christmas wishes to Santa, each more adorable than the next. Oh, and then there’s the mini–Elf Theatre performance. They may not all be in sync every single step, but the joy is palpable.
Kudos to the cast as well, all are present and committed to this story, which most of us have seen many, many times over. It’s definitely a task to keep these familiar characters alive, and they do just fine. Rory Nolan (Fred Gayley and half the directing team), Rachel Smith (Doris Walker), Mya Boggs (Susan Walker), Justin Baldinger (Mr. Sawyer), are standouts throughout. They’re not the only ones doing the work, remember, these folks are volunteers, and they want to be there. They believe, beyond their “common sense,” one could say.
The wardrobe for the show, guided by JoAnn Boshart, Denise Christensen & the cast, was effective and fun (especially the elves). Fred, Doris, and Susan look quite fetching. Kudos to set designer Denise Christensen for working through all those scenes with the limited space available. The transition in and out of the courtroom alone seemed quite the challenge. I also understand that Ralph from this past summer’s A Christmas Story was responsible for running the sound and lights for the performance. That’s a Renaissance man in-training, and a family affair, with his mom as half the directing team and his sister in the cast.
I think Saturday’s performance is sold out, which is great for The Olde Glory. But, according to the website, Friday and Sunday have some seats available: so, get your tickets now. And remember, as Kris Kringle says, “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.” Start looking for those Christmas miracles.
Thank you, Olde Glory Theatre, keep telling your stories.
If you go: You can catch Miracle on 34th Street December 9-11 at 7:00 pm and December 12 at 2:00 pm. Call 402-304-5392 to reserve tickets.
Jamie Bullins is on the faculty in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at UNL, since the fall of 2017. He is an Educator, Scenographer, Director, and Playwright and has been at it for almost 30 years now.
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