Theater Info for Maryland

Toby’s Dinner Theatre Miracle on 34th Street

By • Nov 28th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Miracle on 34th Street
Toby’s Dinner Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Columbia, MD
Through January 5th
2:45 with intermission
$51-$56/$38 Children
Reviewed November 23rd, 2013

Miracle on 34th Street is certainly one of the great Christmas classics. In the 1960’s, Meredith Wilson created the stage musical version title Here’s Love, but it has now been retitled Miracle on 34th Street and comes beautifully to life at the hands of director Shawn Kettering. The production brings to life the holiday cheer and magic with great gusto.

The scene is beautifully set around the room with New York City skyline and shopping signs. Simple set pieces and lifelike props bring the various locations to life enhanced with a stunning light design. The costumes are full of color and beautifully transport the cast back in time.

The action begins when Kris Kringle (Robert Biederman 125) arrives on the scene at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It soon becomes clear that, as far as he is concerned, he is the actual Santa Claus. Biederman gives a jovial and believable performance as the magical man. He especially brings his magic to the life of Doris Walker (Heather Marie Beck). Beck shines in the musical number and the comedic moment, but she sometimes has a hard time bringing believable depth to the more serious side of Doris.

Providing solid performances in pivotal roles are Jeffrey Shankle, who is charming and gets to show off his powerhouse tenor voice as Fred Gaily, and Lawrence B. Munsey, who is larger than life as the powerful R.H. Macy. In the comedic role of Marvin Shellhammer, Darren McDonnell is simply delightful. Will Emory also delivers in a scene-stealing turn as Mr. Sawyer. Throughout the ensemble is powerful in vocals, sharp in choreography, and transform into a variety interesting supporting characters.

The real star of the show, in this performance, was Ella Boodin as Susan Walker. She was beyond precious, brought emotional depth and sparkle to the show, and had a lovely voice. The other children in the show are also very strong and just adorable in their featured moments throughout.

So, if you are looking for pleasant holiday fare that is truly appropriate for all ages, Toby’s has an excellent professional offering worth considering in this consistent production of Miracle on 34th Street.


  • Doris Walker: Heather Marie Beck
  • Susan Walker: Ella Boodin or Sadie Herman
  • Fred Gaily: Jeffrey Shankle
  • Kris Kringle: Robert Biederman 125
  • Marvin Shellhammer: Darren McDonnell
  • R. H. Macy: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Mr. Sawyer, Climber: Will Emory
  • Miss Crookshank, Male Shoppers Wife: Santina Maiolatesi
  • Judge Martin Group, Drunk Santa, NY Governor: David Bosley-Reynolds
  • Tammany O’Halloran, Troubled Clerk, Mr. Gimbel: David James
  • Thomas Mara, Sr., Balloon Vendor, Male Shopper, Mayor of NY: Shawn Kettering
  • Alvin, Goldilocks, Clerk, Mailman: Nick Lehan
  • Whitey, Bailiff, Policeman: David Little
  • Ciara, Lady Shopper: MaryKate Brouillet
  • Miss Sims, Henrika’s Mother: Lara Zinn
  • Sherry Finfer: Lucy Herman or Lily Ulman
  • Mrs. Finfer, Mrs. Beeler: Coby Kay Callahan
  • Henrika: Caroline Otchet or Samantha Yakaitis
  • Tommy Mara, Jr.: Gavin Willard or Theo Yu
  • Girl Scout: Amanda Kaplan
  • Swings: Tina DeSimone & A.J. Whittenberger

Production Staff

  • Director: Shawn Kettering
  • Musical Director: Douglas Lawler
  • Choreographer: Mark Minnick
  • Scenic Designer: David A. Hopkins
  • Costume Designer: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Lighting Designer: Lynn Joslin
  • Sound Designer: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Production Stage Manager: Kate Wackerle
  • Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerle
  • Technical Director: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Master Carpenter: David A. Hopkins
  • Set Construction: David A. Hopkins, Russell Sunday, Ian Wallace
  • Properties & Set Dressing: Amy Kaplan
  • Light Board Operators: Coleen M. Foley, Heather Williams
  • Sound Board Operators: Drew Dedrick, Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Stage Crew: Laura Blasi, Jason Britt, Erin MacDonald


  • Piano/Conductor: Douglas Lawler or Pamela Witt
  • Keyboard 2: Ann Prizzi or Ed Myers
  • Drums: Jack Loercher or R. Scott Robinson
  • Trumpet: Tony Neenan or Frank Gorecki
  • Trombone: Jay Ellis or Dan Pendley
  • Woodwinds: Steve Haaser or Charlene McDaniel

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.