Susan Walker (Julianna Toft), tugs on Santa’s (Hal Kerbes), beard as Fred Gailey (Abraham Asto), looks on (Cole Schisler photo)

Susan Walker (Julianna Toft), tugs on Santa’s (Hal Kerbes), beard as Fred Gailey (Abraham Asto), looks on (Cole Schisler photo)

Calling all believers: Chemainus Theatre Festival runs Miracle on 34th Street

Opening night is Friday, November 15, and closing is December 29

Chemainus Theatre Festival is getting in the holiday spirit with their upcoming production of Miracle on 34th Street.

Miracle on 34th Street is a Christmas classic released as a film in 1947. It has been reproduced for television several times, and has been performed on stage at numerous theatres around the world. Playwright Caleb Marshall has adapted the iconic script for the Chemainus production, and has kept the play true to the original.

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The cast features performers from Vancouver Island and the Mainland. The young actresses Kaia Russell and Juliana Toft will share the role of Susan Walker. Russell is from Chemainus and Toft is from Ladysmith. Russell previously played Gretl in The Sound of Music and Toft played Martha in The Sound of Music as well.

Michelle Morris who plays Doris Walker, said working with Russell and Toft has been a great experience.

“They’re so lovely, and they’re such professionals,” Morris said. “It amazes me. When we were doing the first read through of the play a few weeks back, these kids have to sit at the table and wait for their turn. They’re so patient, and so professional. The director was asking them questions about their character, and what they think of the play. They have thoughts and ideas — I was not that focused as a child. They’ve been lovely, and they’re doing beautiful work.”

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This will be Morris’ debut in Chemainus. She is a graduate of the Studio 58 theatre training program at Langara College, and has acted in numerous productions. Morris is from Powell River, and has dreamed about coming to perform in Chemainus.

“Everyone’s so welcoming. It’s such a great crew that we have, cast, director, and creative team as well,” Morris said.

Chemainus Theatre Festival has built a ‘major’ reputation on the Mainland as one of the better contracts to get. Morris said that actors as far as Toronto are looking for Chemainus Theatre productions — specifically for roles in musical productions.

“It’s one of the better contracts to get in terms of pay and opportunity, and just the fact that I think everybody comes here and they fall in love with the place,” Morris said. “I feel like 99.9 percent of people who come to Chemainus fall in love with it, and the community here, and the audience as well. It’s such a rich, giving audience that comes to see the shows here.”

Opening night is Friday, November 15, and closing is December 29.The show is 75 percent sold out, and tickets are expected to fully sell out. Anyone interested in buying tickets can contact the Theatre at: 250-246-9800 or online at: chemainustheatrefestival.ca/tickets/