Review by Megan Holley, Front Row Reviewers
Desert Star Playhouse in Murray, Utah is a family-friendly dinner theatre, and its current show Miracle on 42nd Street is a holiday spectacular that is bound to keep you in the holiday spirit all season long. Desert Star is known for having delicious popcorn (which is free), newspapers as playbills, and having the audience participate by booing at the villains and cheering for the heroes. At the end of every show, the cast performs an olio that is themed to the show. Because it’s the holiday season, this olio’s theme is “Cowboy Christmas.” “Cowboy Christmas” melds a Western yahoo! theme that includes: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “Bring me a Cowboy for Christmas”, and “12 Days of Christmas Redneck Style”.
In a musical about bringing Santa to life, Dolly Martin (Alyssa Powers/ Melissa Cecala) helps persuade young Natalie Walker (Brittany James/Gweny Adams/Jessica Yergensen) to have faith and believe that Santa is real. Dolly says, “If you want a rainbow, you need to put up with a little rain.” It is the one line that hit me most poignantly, because that line is so true.
The boo-inviting Laurel Lye (Ari Bagley/ Madison Portillo/Rio LeFevre) works with Hardy Steele (Joshua Adams/Kyle Larsen) to try to sabotage the show. Every good show, especially holiday themed one, has at least one love interest, and just like every Hallmark movie, the love interests (yes there are multiple), find their happy ending. The real magic occurs when you see Santa Claus/Kris Kringle (Marc Reading/Matt O’Malley) dance around the audience during the Olio– pure Christmas magic.
If you love Christmas, why not come spent quality time at a quality theatre and watch a rendition of the loved Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street mixed with the Broadway musical 42nd Street, and enjoy the entertainment and the magic that unfolds. You may even hear mentions of Dolly Parton’s previous shows like 9 to 5, and Steel Magnolias.
Director Beth Bruner has her holiday spirit on target and directs Miracle on 42nd Streetwith obvious knowledge of both classics that were blended to make Desert Star’s newest production a hit. She cast this show in such a way that every character fits perfectly, it is as though every performer is so comfortable in their roles, it’s like they are dear friends, or mortal enemies, as the case may be. Even with somas technical malfunctions, the performers always stay in character and improvise around it to make the show not only go on, but to add more comedy into the situation.
Costumers Brytan Todd and Lee Daily went over the top in the best way for the costumes. Yes, there is really a person dressed as a full-on Christmas tree. The Dolly Parton character is just a bright and well, tacky as the real thing.
Nothing spreads holiday cheer like music, which is exactly what accompanists Zach Hansen and Jill Flanagan bring to Miracle on 42nd Street. These two play the piano effortlessly, and keep the show running by providing the music for the show and the sounds for the audience to know when to boo or cheer. The pair are incredibly talented and you will want them to keep playing once the show is over.
Show Choreographer Larissa Villers and Olio Choreographer Sunny Simkins create fantastic choreography that will keep playing in your brain, which in turn, will want you to come see the show again with more friends so you can dance with them. You will recognize parts of both show’s dances from TikTok and from country line dancing, which delights audiences old and young and in-between.
Set Designers Ken Lineberry and Kent Parker chose the perfect minimalistic set, which helps with faster set changes. This in turn leaves more time for the performers to do their magic and lets the Christmas spirit never flag.
Light Designer Bronson Todd crafts sparkly snowflake spotlights into the show. It’s Christmas magic. Todd’s finesse brings drama and comedy in all the right places.
Sound Designer Todd has the delightful job of bringing holiday favorites to an appreciative audience. Christmas music dazzled us all. Talk about getting into the spirit.
As hard as it is to believe, Christmas is right around the corner. With all the crazy shopping, decorating, baking, and merry making, taking a fun break at Desert Star Playhouse’s Miracle on 42nd Street needs to be on your Christmas to do list.
Desert Star Playhouse presents Miracle on 42nd Street, written by Norman E. Plate and Beth Bruner. 2023 update by Nick Seivert and Beth Bruner.
Desert Star Playhouse Theatre, 4861 S State Street, Murray, Utah 84107
November 9, 2023- January 6, 2024, times vary
Tickets: Adults $26.95, Children $15.95 (11 and under) Children under five years old are not allowed.
Desert Star Facebook Page