‘Miracle on 34th Street’ to close Broadway season at CroswellWritten by Renee Lapham Collins | | email@example.com
After 23 years of marriage, Michael and Betsy Lackey are doing something they haven’t done before — co-directing “Miracle on 34th Street.”
So far, it’s an experience they have enjoyed, the couple said.
“It’s been fun,” Michael said. “We’re having a great time.”
The hit Broadway musical, based on the successful 1940s movie, will be staged Dec. 7-9 at the historic Croswell Opera House, 129 E. Maumee St., in downtown Adrian. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Tickets are $28 for adults, $25 for students and seniors and $15 for children 12 and younger.
The Lackeys are no strangers to the Croswell stage. They met in 1980 on the set of “Pajama Game,” playing opposite each other, and married in 1989. Michael has spent the last six years with “Phantom of the Opera” in Las Vegas and Betsy is pleased to have him back home. Doing the play together has been rewarding.
“We work well together,” Betsy said. “We keep each other in check. When one is frustrated, the other steps up and the first steps back.”
Adds Michael, “Another cool thing is that Betsy is far more experienced as a director while I have more acting experience. Plus we write music together and that is helpful in working on this musical.”
The hit show was originally titled “Here’s Love” for the stage. Written by “The Music Man” composer Meredith Wilson, the show features the familiar holiday theme, “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.”
“Meredith Wilson is known for his ‘patter songs’ and his marches,” Betsy said. “So this is kind of like a 1960s version of a rap musical.”
The couple knew they wanted to make a few changes when they agreed to direct.
“One of the first things we did was change it back from the 1960s to the 1940s,” Betsy said.
“It has been interesting because we have to change all those references to things that weren’t around in the 1940s,” Michael said.
Another challenge for the couple is the size of the cast.
“We have 59 people in this cast and it is huge,” said Betsy.
The show blends Christmas, kids and music into a memorable performance.
“The kids are adorable — they steal the show,” Michael said. “They’re cute, they’re wonderful, they’re hysterically funny.”
The show includes a variety of performances showcasing the children’s talents, including acrobats, a ballerina en pointe, a Dutch girl on roller skates and others in the opening scene, set during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
The plot is the story of Kris Kringle, portrayed by Mark Hyre, an old man who claims to be the authentic Santa Claus. The controversy surrounding his claims eventually spreads the spirit of the season far and wide, even bringing competing department stores Macy’s and Gimbel’s together.
The Croswell production features Allison Siebold of Toledo as the suspicious and practical Macy’s executive Doris Walker while Arielle Osstifin of Tecumseh portrays Doris’s daughter, Susan. The cast has exceeded the Lackeys’ expectations, in part because of the way they have chosen to stage it.
“We brought in more experienced actors to work with the new actors and they become this great team,” Michael said.
The play “has become this great big learning experience for everyone — including Michael and I,” Betsy said.
The musical isn’t a commonly-staged show, so much of what has been done on the stage and in the rehearsals has been up to the co-directors. Because it’s not as familiar to casts, crews or audiences, the process has been a learning experience from the start.
“This isn’t a show you’d see in Ann Arbor or Dexter,” Michael said. “It’s not one people know. But it’s really a lot of fun.”
In addition to working on the directing end, Michael also served as “scenic painter” for the production.
The Lackeys agree the experience has been rewarding.
“It’s been a surprising and happy experience,” Michael said. “We’ve got a good company and it’s a good show.”
For more information, call the Croswell at 517-264-SHOW (7469) or visit www.croswell.org.