MIAMI — “Miracle on 34th Street” gives the audience a chance to escape for a couple hours, said Charlie Rarick, who portrays Kris Kringle in the holiday classic that is being presented by the Miami Little Theatre.
“It’s an opportunity for us to take the focus off all the worries and the issues and to focus on believing in something and take our eyes off our problems,” Rarick said. “It gives people a place to escape for maybe an hour or two. We want them to feel safe and comfortable.
“We just want people to have an opportunity kind of to get lost in a familiar story.”
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s matinee will give those in attendance a chance to catch the Miami Christmas Parade, which begins at 6 p.m. and will run north on Main Street from B.J. Tunnell to the Market Square Shopping Center.
Based on a story by Valentine Davies, “Miracle on 34th Street” became a holiday classic following the 1947 movie that starred Maurine O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn.
The movie version won three Academy Awards, including Gwenn as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Kris Kringle.
The Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry.
“The story of this is not so much about Santa Claus. It’s really about having faith and the belief in people,” Rarick said.
In the play, Kris Kringle becomes perturbed that the man who had been assigned to play Santa in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was drunk.
He complains to event director Doris Walker and she encourages Kris to pinch-hit. He does so well that he’s hired to play Santa at the Macy’s New York City flagship store on 34th Street.
Shocking employees and customers, his claim that he really is Santa Claus leads to a court case to determine his mental health and authenticity.
Rarick has been part of the cast of numerous MLT productions, including another Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as well as “No, No, Nanette,” “The Music Man,” “The Little Shop of Horrors” and “Route 66 Revue.”
He directed several others, “mostly the musicals,” he said, including
“The Marvelous Wonderettes” and “Godspell.”
He and his wife, Elaine, will direct MLT’s February production, “Smokey Joe’s Café.”
“It’s an enjoyable time. With MLT, we spend so much time together, you become like a family. My wife has coined the phrase that we’re kind of a tribe,” Charlie Rarick said.
He said he considered majoring in music in college but opted for computer science.
“I thought it would pay better,” he joked.
A resident of Baxter Springs, he works for Crossland Construction.
Additional members of the cast include Breeanna Wakefield, Doris Walker; James Redden, Fred Gayley; Jeffrey Haynes, Dr. Pierce; Sophie Harris, Susan Walker; Goldie Snow, Shellhammer; Justin Colby, James Mara; Michael Harris, James Mara Jr.; Jesse Black, Albert Sawyer; Jerry Venis, Drunk Santa/Judge; Brad Peters, Finley/Reporter; Eric Mahurin, Hollaran; Judy Pitman, Bag Lady/ Court Reporter; Beth Shamblin, Rich Person/Ensemble; Madyson Haynes, Sharon/Ensemble; Kristie Harris, Sharon’s Mother/Ensemble; Wyatt Matthews, Johnny/Ensemble; Johnny’s Mother/Ensemble; Olivia Harris, Dutch Girl/Ensemble; Tabitha Nickles, Adoptive Mother/Ensemble; Abigail Lee, Megan/Ensemble; Melissa Vanatta, Megan’s Mother/Ensemble; Elaine Rarick, Mrs. R.H. Macy; Sarah Stephens Barton, Mrs. Bloomingdale; Kaitlynn Warner, Elf Z; Hadlee Frazier, Elf J; Madelyn Hilburn, Elf Q; Jocelyn Colby, Elf R; Isaiah Nickles, Al/Ensemble; Nikolas Warner, Lou/Ensemble; Megan Frazier, Janet Duncan; Jacob Sanda, Photographer/Reporter; Mateo Valdez, Ensemble; Madyson Haynes, Ensemble; James Clayburg, Ensemble; Carmen Valdez, Ensemble; Peyton Drake, Ensemble; Malia Valdez, Ensemble; Kennedy Matthews, Ensemble; Abigail Byers, Ensemble, and Grayson Wakefield, Ensemble.
Adult tickets are $17 and students and seniors are $12.
To purchase tickets or for more information, go online at www.colemantheatre.org/events, visit the theatre at 103 N. Main St. in downtown Miami, or call 918-540-2425.