Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

Here's Love

Meredith Willson wrote two mega musicals in a row that made him a wunderkind on Broadway. However, after The Unsinkable Molly Brown and The Music Man, Mr. Willson seemed to run out of steam when he wrote the score to Here's Love, which was based on the Fox classic film Miracle on 34th Street. The score just did not seem vibrant enough for the Willson touch. It could not compare with his two classic musicals. Following Here's Love he wrote the score to 1492 which went nowhere.

Here's Love faithfully follows the film with much of the film's dialogue incorporated into the show. I think everyone knows the story of Doris Walker, a single mother who has a thriving career as promotion manager of Macy's Department Store in New York. She has a young daughter, Susan, who doesn't believe in Santa Claus. Suddenly a man named Kris Kringle comes into their lives. He is hired by Macy's to portray Santa. Kris's warmth, intelligence and affection not only persuade Susan that he is the real Santa, but he also inspires a wave of holiday love across the city. It is a real holiday musical for both adults and children alike and a good choice for Willows Theatre Company to present in December.

The sole memorable song from the musical is "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" which has become a holiday standard. Most of the other songs are not memorable, but are pleasant to hear. In the second act there is a song that is a direct steal from The Music Man called "She Hadda Go Back" which sounds a lot like "Ya Got Trouble."

Robert Rossman was extraordinary as Kris Kringle. He sported a wonderful flowing white beard that looked real and he had a marvelous singing voice, especially when he sang "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" with Doris and Susan. Laura Beth Wells as Doris had a pleasing voice particularly in the songs "Nothing In Common" and "You Don't Know." Megan Botts was very professional as the young Susan and she had the right spin as the doubting child. Unfortunately I thought Noel Anthony Escobar was miscast as the love interest . I have seen this talented actor prior and he has a wonderful voice. He was outstanding in Chess. However, here he was fighting against the melody and several times he went over the words with no emotion. The patter song in the second act just did not come over.

The chorus consisted of many young children and they were bewitching in both singing and acting. The chorus was wonderful in the songs ""The Big Clown Balloons" and "Here's Love."

Here's Love is rarely performed and I give director Richard Elliott credit for presenting this holiday musical to the audience. Here's Love closed on January 2nd.

The next Willows production is Christopher Sergel's To Kill a Mockingbird, which opens on January 28 and runs through March 3. Call 925-798-1300 for tickets.

Cheers - and be sure to check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema

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