While the characters in “Miracle on 34th Street” debate if a kind old man who calls himself Kris Kringle and lives in a Nassau County retirement home could be the genuine St. Nick, the young actors from across Long Island in the Argyle Theater’s production of the holiday classic are surely rising stars. The eight kids who split four roles in the musical offer up their own thoughts on the timeless tale and spreading Christmas magic.
“The show teaches it is important to believe in others,” says Raquel Sciacca, 12, of Smithtown. She plays Susan Walker, the daughter of a divorcee who is raised not to buy into the notion of the jolly, gift-giving gent. With a host of regional credits, Sciacca says she is excited to make her Argyle debut. “Like Susan, I also question things,” she says. She appreciates the lesson Susan learns, too. “If it makes you happy, you should believe in it,” she says.
So agrees Cordelia Comando, 11 and also of Smithtown, who shares the role made famous by Natalie Wood in the 1947 film version. “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to,” she says, quoting a line delivered by her character’s mom, Doris Walker. If you miss Cordelia at the Argyle, you can catch her in a Netflix children’s musical special with stand-up comedian John Mulaney, available for streaming Dec. 24.
East Northport seventh-grader Jacob Karp is a believer, just like the boy he plays. “My favorite scene is the courtroom one because my character Tommy Mara Jr.'s testimony plays a crucial role in proving that there really is a Santa Claus,” he says. Jacob, previously appeared in “The Full Monty” at the Argyle, has an affinity for the part for another reason. “Like Tommy, I see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade every year as my Dad's office overlooks the parade route.”
The other Tommy, Gavin Weingarten, who asserts in the show that Santa is real because his father would never tell a lie, relates to Tommy’s connection to his dad as well. “I like to have fun with my dad and I trust what my dad says,” says the fourth-grader from Plainview. Gavin is also fond of what he calls “the plastic alligator scene,” when a group of store clerks sing about the virtues of the toy reptiles. “It’s funny, and I like the choreography of it,” he says.
The favorite moment for Zach Atkinson, 12, of Lake Grove who plays Harry Finfer, is when Santa joins shoppers and Macy’s personnel for the song “Here’s Love” on a floor in the department store. “I like that in the scene my character gets to tell Santa what he would like for Christmas,” says the young film and Off-Broadway actor. Noting that he is Jewish, he doesn’t usually get that chance.
Landon Forlenza of Huntington, who alternates as Harry in his first Argyle stint, is equally pumped about repeatedly encountering Santa. “It’s just really fun,” he says. The 10-year-old, who also drums up holiday cheer as Tiny Tim in an IHOP commercial, is very clear on the season’s message. “Just treat everyone kindly and,” he adds, “with love.”
Christina May Gobes, a third grader from Nesconset who plays Dutch girl Hendrika in her first appearance at the Babylon theater, also relishes the “special” scene shared with Santa. “Amazing things can happen when you believe," says. Christina May, whose character is surprised by Santa’s kind gesture of speaking in her native language.
To Landon's sister, Alexis Rae Forlenza, 7, also cast as Hendrika, the view from the stage is enthralling. “I like to see big audiences and I like to see a full house,” she says. Does she think it’s important to believe in Santa? “Of course,” exclaims the co-star of the upcoming Judd Apatow film “Staten Island.” “Otherwise you’ll get put on the naughty list!”
WHAT “Miracle on 34th Street — the Musical”
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Friday and Dec. 4 and 5, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 29, The Argyle Theatre, 34 W. Main St., Babylon
INFO $49-$74; 844-631-5483, argyletheatre.com