The Standard Journal printed the wrong start time for this play. It starts at 7:30 p.m. each night.
REXBURG – The Rexburg Community Theatre will present the time-honored “Miracle on 34th Street” this month but, unlike previous productions, this one comes with a unique twist.
August Schmid, a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho, is overseeing the play that is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. starting Monday and continuing through Thursday and Friday and again on Dec. 16 with closing night scheduled for Dec. 20th at the Romance Theater.
“It’s a huge honor to direct,” he said. “It really is. It’s been really humbling and touching. It’s been a real pleasure.”
According to moviememories.com, the 1947 Oscar winning movie tells the story of the real Kris Kringle who takes the place of a drunk Santa during the Macy’s Day Parade and is later hired by Doris Walker to play their Santa at Macy’s on 34th Street.
Rexburg Theatre official Ann Cluff says that the Rexburg Community Theatre traditionally does a Christmas production and likes to have guest directors help out.
“We look at their resumes and look at their experience,” she said. “Sometimes they’ve been in our shows. We know what they’re capable of doing, and what they bring talent-wise and their college experience.”
Cluff approached Schmid last summer, and he quickly agreed to help with “Miracle on 34th Street.”
“He was in our radio version of ‘It’s a wonderful life.’ He’s fabulous,” Cluff said. “He comes from a theater family. His dad does costuming throughout the nation and his mom teaches (costuming and makeup) on campus. Having this on August’s resume looks good.”
This is Schmid’s second time to direct. While in high school, he directed the play “James and the Giant Peach.”
“That was another awesome experience,” he said. “I loved that.”
Schmid started directing his current cast in October.
“It’s a full time job,” he said. “You do have to make sure you’re juggling everything correctly. It’s making sure that I’m mentally and physically prepared before rehearsal. It’s to have that direction the actors need, so they know what to do. It’s talking to the designers, so they have an understanding of my vision, and what I would like to see on stage.”
About 35 people make up the cast and include every age group. David Cutler plays Santa Claus while Amber Broderick is featured as Doris Walker. Natalie Benson plays Susan Walker while Tennyson Miller plays Fred Gailey who is the Walkers’ neighbor and Santa’s lawyer.
“It’s been wonderful,” he said. “Again, it has been such a great experience. I was blessed with a great cast who come ready to work. Very early on in the process they each had their scripts memorized and polished to make sure the shows are right. Everyone’s been such a joy to work with.”
Cluff said that when Rexburg Theatre officials started looking for a play for this holiday season, they considered several Christmas-themed productions. Most were musicals, but with limited space at the Romance Theater, they hoped to find a non-musical Christmas story. Such was found in the play version of “Miracle on 34th Street.”
“We loved it, of course,” she said. “Who doesn’t love it?”
Cluff says it’s vital that community members have the chance to shine in productions like “Miracle on 34th Street.”
“We live in a small community which is nice,” she said. “You can be a big fish in a small pond and bring your talents to share with neighbors.”
Some of the theatre’s actors haven’t been in any kind of production or did so many years ago in college or high school.
“It’s a way to expose people to the arts and live theater.” Cluff said. “It gives people an opportunity to share their talents on a variety of levels. It’s healthy. It’s wholesome. We get people from all walks of life. I think we always surprise the community with as much talent as we do.”
Cluff said being in a play helps community members learn to work as a team.
“When you come together, you know very few of the people,” she said. “By the time it’s over, you are a literally a family. They grow those relationships. It’s a great way to feel connected and loved.”
For more information on the upcoming play visit rctheatre.org