As Susan Walker in the Village Players production of Miracle on 34th Street, Hannah Westcott plays a role that furthers her "opportunity to experience different age groups of acting," which is one of her reasons for taking to the stage in the first place.
"I get to play a seven-year-old, and that's a good experience," said Westcott, herself, age 12. "Since I'm small, that helps [playing a younger child]. And I've pretty much grown up around small people. My brother's younger."
What's more important about this role, though, is that it dates back to the 1940's, when Natalie Wood played the role on screen.
"I love it because I love the classics," Westcott said. "I love that time period. My friends came to rehearsals and said told me how much I sounded just like her. It's just fun knowing that I'm playing the same part Natalie Wood played a long time ago, when she was a child."
The show centers on divorcee Doris Walker and her young daughter, Susan, who is raised to believe that fantasy is misguided. So, when she meets Kris Kringle, the man her mother hires to replace an inebriated Santa Claus in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Susan's upbringing is put to the test — and so, too, her mother's beliefs.
"My favorite part of the movie is when Santa is tucking Susan into bed and she's chewing bubble gum and he wants to try some," Westcott said. "So, he tries some and it's gets all over his beard."
- The role of Santa Claus is played by Donald "D.G." Speirs, who has been acting for four decades and has been playing Santa since 2006. See
What's best about the movie, though, is the message, she added.
"I like the message, because it's telling you faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to," Westcott said. "You don't have to listen to the world to believe in something that you can or cannot see."
As for Susan, Westcott sees in the character a strong-willed child with an insatiable desire to discover, as all children wont, the world around them.
"She has a hint of funniness about her," Westcott said. "She's like a know-it-all, she knows everything, and when she finally gets to meet [and know about] Santa, she's like, 'Wow, that's awesome, I didn't know about this!' "
People will like the show "because it's warm and it's happy," she said. "People like Christmas, with warm and fuzzy things like shows."
Also on tap for Westcott is the Joshua Generation Musical Theater and Production Company's 2012 Winter Showcase, Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. More than 40 homeschooled students will "use their God-given talents to glorify the Lord, not self," according to Hannah Westcott's mother, and Joshua Generation regional director, Lisa Westcott.
Lisa Westcott is also the musical director for Miracle on 34th Street, which is not a musical but features the addition of children actors singing carols.
The Joshua Generation production is at Christ Community Church on John Moore Road in Brandon. Tickets cost $5 per person, ages 5 and up, and can be purchased at the door. There is no cost for younger children.
"If your homeschooled child has a passion for the performing arts, this showcase is a perfect opportunity to see what we do," Lisa Westcott said. "And if you are interested in beginning the application process, applications will be accepted for our next season," which begins later this month.
For more information, visit the Joshua Generation Musical Theater and Production Company online.
Village Players Presentation of Miracle on 34th Street
Opening night is Nov. 30. Additional show dates are Dec. 1, 7-8 and 14-15. Curtain time is 8:15 p.m. The matinee show is Dec. 9 at 3 p.m.
- For more on the show, including a cast listing, see Is There a Santa Claus? See 'Miracle on 34th Street' at James McCabe Theater
Tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for students, senior citizens and military. Call the Village Players information line at 813-643-8292 or 813-630-2237.