This year, for their 93rd season, Sarasota’s historic community theater The Players Center has entitled their production season “Six That Matter” – five musicals and one Pulitzer prize-winning play that hold particular significance to the company and hopefully, audience members as well. While the season is punctuated by various highlights such as Sondheim’s Side by Side and Little Shop of Horrors, one performance, arriving just in time for the holiday season, should catch your eye. The Players Centre company premiere of Miracle on 34th Street, directed by Director of Marketing Amanda Heisey, marks a very exciting and different addition to the season: a musical in the round, disguised as a 1940s radio broadcast. “The audience functions as the live studio audience of this “live broadcast” –back in the day these radio broadcasts would be accompanied by live studio audiences, like what eventually happened with television,” says Heisey.  Miracle on 34th Street, as with the rest of the season’s productions, will be presented in the round—courtesy of an off-season reconfiguration of the performance venue. For Heisey, it brings a new perspective and set of challenges to directing the production. “It’s really about going in and figuring out what’s the best way to tell that story. How am I going to do that in the round, which is more difficult than the traditional theater setup. There’s a lot more movement, as we  don’t want to have the actors’ backs to somebody for too long,” says Heisey. Part of making the production feel like a radio broadcast from the 1940s is the addition of a Foley artist - the person who made the sound effects for radio broadcasts prior to modern-day digital innovation. “A whole separate concept that we don’t think about in the digital age–now you can just add in sound effects—but before, someone had to physically make them. In Miracle on 34th Street, it’s a radio broadcast that is a combination of the actors telling the story— some playing multiple characters—and functioning as a foley artist, adding that other layer of practical  sound effects on the stage as if you were listening on the radio,” says Heisey. “You’ll get to watch them make those sound effects in front of you, which will be really cool, especially when paired with the very jazzy, 1940s Christmas music, some of which has been spruced up for the show.”

The Players Centre, Dec 1-3, 4 and 6-10,