The Gladstone Theatre’s annual radio play has become a holiday tradition, and this year’s offering is a classic Christmas tale suitable for the entire family.
Should you see it?
Plosive Productions’ annual radio show at The Gladstone Theatre this year is the timeless Christmas classic: Miracle on 34th Street. Adapted by Teri Loretto-Valentik and John Cook from the book by Valentine Davies, Miracle on 34th Street is the same story we all grew up with about a man, Kris Kringle who is put on trial for claiming to be the real Santa Claus. Along the way, both the characters and the audience truly learn what it means to believe in things that common sense so strongly urges us not to.
Miracle on 34th Street is such a well-known heartwarming story, that it needs to truly be presented in a unique way to captivate audiences who have heard or seen the story countless times. Plosive Productions does just that, pulling in some of Ottawa’s most talented actors to not necessarily stage the Miracle on 34th Street we all know, love and expect; but present it in a very unique manner – as a radio show.
Maybe it’s just because I’m part of a younger generation who never really grew up listening to stories on the radio; but the concept seemed right off the bat, if we’re being honest, boring. Going into a theatre and watching a bunch of people read lines off of a book just doesn’t seem to strike me as a night out on the town… but I can admit when I’m wrong.
Let’s start with the set. The Gladstone Theatre, a beautiful and majestic theatre in its own right, was decorated from top to bottom for this show. Not only was there an elaborate set, but the way the theatre was decorated made me, as an audience member, feel involved with this production.
Secondly, the talent. Most of the (stage) characters portray multiple (play) characters, each with clearly distinct and separate voices. Keeping them straight must have been a nightmare of a time. Tim Oberholzer, Shaun Toohey & Tom Charlebois steal the show. Oberholzer is by far the most entertaining actor on the stage when he’s in character (and out of character); constantly being a highlight with shenanigans on and off set. Shaun Toohey plays some of the more snivelling, villainous characters, and does them so well… almost in a Toby Jones sort of way. But it’s Tom Charlebois who is the big star; playing Kris Kringle, Charlebois commands a stage presence not matched by anyone else in this production. And finally, for fun before the show and intermixed throughout, we were treated to the delights of The Gladstone Sisters, an a cappella trio comprised of Lori Jean Hodge, Michele Fansett and Rachel Eugster who are some of the most talented singers I have had the joy of seeing on stage.
Now let’s move to the production itself. It is quite entertaining, from start to finish. We’re watching actors playing actors getting in and out character and interacting with each other ‘back stage’. It provides quite an entertaining foray into the “Golden Age of Radio”. The opening program suggests that viewers take the time to sit back, close their eyes and listen to the show at times, as if to imagine that they are hearing it on the radio, but one simply cannot do it with so much going on – you don’t want to miss any of the fun.
Directed by Nicole Milne, Miracle on 34th Street: The Radio Show plays at The Gladstone Theatre until December 23, 2012, and is definitely a treat that you and the family don’t want to miss out on. For more info and who’s in it, see our preview article.
What did you think of the show? Do you agree with Matthew or did the radio play format not work for you? Did you find the on-stage activity added to the experience or made things confusing? Will you go to next year’s radio play? Join the discussion in the comments below.