Chances are you’ve seen the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street” before. And between four different movie adaptations and a Broadway musical, chances are you’ve probably even seen it a number of different ways.
But unless you were in the audience at Lux Radio Theatre in 1947, you’ve never been able to see it like this — until now.
When the show made its debut at Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville on Friday, Dec. 4, locals and theater-goers got to check out a new take on an old classic as the Bethany Area Repertory Theatre (BART) has set out to recreate the original 1947 radio show broadcast this holiday season.
“Expect something different,” said co-director Charlie Sorrentino. “‘Miracle on 34th Street’ has been done a million times since 1947 — we’re going about very differently. What we’ve done is we recreated what happened at the Lux Radio Theatre at Radio City Music Hall — our audience will get that same experience that radio audience did.”
Sorrentino is assisting his wife, director Sharon Sorrentino, as they aim to involve the audience in the production by letting them become part of the soundtrack, just like the Lux Radio Theatre did nearly 70 years ago.
“We’re not gonna just be standing there in front of a mic, reading a script. We’ve really mixed it up to make it a fun experience,” Sorrentino went on to explain. “Some of those scenes that people would have heard we’re actually gonna perform as scenes to lighten the moment for them.”
Throughout the course of the show, the audience will receive cues about when and how to participate in the show. But setting apart the BART production from the original will be that, unlike the show at Lux, the new version will actually get a chance to include a visual performance, rather than just an audio version.
“To do it as a radio show kind of doesn’t do justice to the story,” Sorrentino said of the original format. “There’s nothing to exhilarate an audience, so we decided to mix it up little bit and give the audience a full experience and a little bit of history.
“It’s basically what we call a hybrid — it’s never been done that I know of. We want them to feel as if they’re actually sitting in Radio City Music Hall and they’re watching that final reprisal when the audience becomes involved.”
So far, the new concept has been well received, which Sorrentino said could inspire similarly executed shows in the future.
“We’re hoping that it works and gives people a night of entrainment, because we would then be able to do other shows in a similar format,” he explained. “It makes the audience more involved, and it makes the experience more fun.”
You can experience the show yourself with three more showings coming up this weekend, on Friday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m.; and a matinee showing on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 2 p.m., all at the Dickens Parlour Theatre at 35715 Atlantic Avenue in Millville.
For tickets or more information, visit www.dptmagic.com.