Azuay Community Theater continues its holiday tradition of staged radio plays December 6, 8, 9 & 10

Dec 1, 2023 | 0 comments

By John Olson

Expats who miss seeing their favorite Christmas movies on TV can fill the void with ACT’s heartwarming comedy “Miracle on 34th Street” at one of four performances, December 6, 8, 9 and 10. Show details and tickets: www.actseats.com.

Top row L-R: Kit Thornton, Christine Clark, Derek Weber, Billy Bragg, Saralee Squires, Wes Elliott, Bob Hay, Marion Keith Lower Row L-R: Mark Hinostroza, Pamela Phoenix, Mark Deckard, Kathleen Thornton, Kate Wohlfeld, Alexandra Maldonado, Maria Augusta Espinoza, Bob Fry, George Donovan. Not pictured: Rick Snyder, Don Trammel (Photo by Aiden Massey)

This will be the third consecutive year that ACT performs a live radio play version of a famous Christmas story, following the popular “A Christmas Carol” in 2021 and “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 2022.

“Miracle on 34th Street” sparks laughs as it pokes fun at holiday spirit cynics
“Miracle on 34th Street” takes place between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in New York City. A Macy’s advertising executive who tells her daughter there is no Santa Claus hires a man off the street to be their Santa. When the man says his name is Kris Kringle and that he is the real deal, people start to wonder if there really is a Santa Claus and if miracles sometimes do happen.

The film was released in June 1947 and starred Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and an eight-year-old Natalie Wood. Those stars all returned to perform an adaptation of the screenplay on a live national radio broadcast the following December, and it is that radio script that ACT will perform for Cuenca audiences.

A cast of ACT regulars and new faces
Appearing as the Macy’s executive Doris Walker and her daughter Susan will be ACT newcomers Kate Wohlfeld and Pamela Phoenix. ACT veterans Bob Fry and Mark Deckard will play Doris’ love interest Fred Gailey and Kris Kringle, respectively. The cast also includes Billy Bragg, George Donovan, Wes Elliott, Maria Augusta Espinoza, Bob Hay, Mark Hinostroza, Alexandra Maldonado, Pamela Phoenix and Saralee Squires. Directing the production is Kit Thornton, who played the title role in ACT’s August production of “Trumbo: Red, White, and Blacklisted”

The “Miracle” production team also includes Catherine Clark (costumes), Marion Keith and Don Trammel (Sound), Derek Weber and Regina Potenza (Lights), Kathleen Thornton (Stage Manager) and Rick Snyder (Producer).

Holiday radio plays were a tradition before TV
Cable TV presentations of perennial holiday favorites started in the 80’s, but, in fact, the practice of annual performances began in the golden age of radio. The major radio networks carried live dramatizations of Christmas stories in the 1930s and 1940s. Lionel Barrymore, the evil “Mr. Potter”, performed “A Christmas Carol” every year on CBS radio, starting in 1934, with the exception of 1936 when his wife died and his brother John Barrymore filled in, and 1938, when Orson Welles took over.

Original Lux Radio Theater Script
The Lux Radio Theatre is the source for the ACT script and was the most popular dramatic radio anthology series in the US for more than 20 years. It was broadcast from 1934 through 1955, presenting live radio broadcasts of popular movies and Broadway plays, often with the original casts. They performed “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart and Donna Reed in 1947, and on December 22, 1947, presented an adaptation of the then-recent film “Miracle on 34th Street,” with the stars of that film – Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood.

ACT will collect toys for Dr. Grace’s Toy Drive at performances.
ACT will be accepting donations for Dr. Grace Ordonez’ annual toy drive at the four performances of “Miracle on 34th Street.” Unwrapped toys suitable for children 2 -12 can be brought to the theater at each performance after doors open one hour before curtain times. Cash donations for the purchase of toys will also be accepted. The toys will be delivered to the poorest villages outside of Cuenca. More information on Dr. Grace’s Toy Drive is available at https://www.facebook.com/dragraceordonez.

Tickets and Performance Schedule
“Miracle on 34th Street” will be performed just four times on Wednesday, December 6 at 2 pm, Friday, December 8 at 4 pm, Saturday, December 9 at 4 pm, and Sunday, December 10 at 4 pm.

The Lobby Bar opens for a social hour starting one hour before each showtime. Tickets ($15 advance purchase) are available at http://www.actseats.com. All performances will be at Azuay Community Theater’s new location, Antonio Vega Muñoz 1446 between Coronel Tálbot and Estévez de Toral. (See location map).

Flex ticket holders can reserve their seats by emailing actseats@gmail.com.

More information on ACT’s 2023-24 season and volunteer opportunities are available at http://www.actseats.com

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