A Chat with Lance Arthur Smith – Adaptor of Miracle On 34th Street
Meet Lance Arthur Smith
What drew you to adapting Miracle on 34th Street?
I had surprisingly never seen any version of Miracle. I say “surprisingly” because I adore Christmas movies and have seen quite a few. To adapt something so beloved to so many people, and something with which I was unfamiliar, was exciting. I would be discovering Susan’s plight with her, and could frame it through a fresh lens. Another thing onto which I immediately latched was the premise of creating a live radio play. I was raised on radio dramas. The Shadow and The Damon Runyan Theatre (with characters who would eventually become the basis for Guys and Dolls) were two of my favorites. Finally, the chance to work with Jon, who is a wizard at creating beautiful music and lyrics and a joyous collaborator, was something I couldn’t resist.
What was the most difficult part of adapting Miracle from the original Lux Radio Hour Broadcast?
I think it’s the same challenge writers face when adapting anything- the desire to craft a story with your own artistic voice while remaining true to the core of the story that’s come before. It’s a tightrope act; some material is rewritten from the original, some scenes are completely new, and some are pretty close to the source text.
Over the years Miracle on 34th Street has become a beloved and iconic holiday classic. What has caused viewers to return to it year after year?
Something magical happens during the holidays, and it’s different for everyone, but I think the magic springs from a return to the innocence of childhood, and the need to believe the world will be all right. Susan in Miracle is representative of that struggle for innocence against the realities of the world, and her plight is shared by all the characters in the play.
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
When I was a kid, TurkeyMan used to come to my house and leave a gift in the bathtub for Thanksgiving. He still comes to this day, only now with presents for my daughters. I love waking up, watching my girls find their presents, heading next door to my sister-in-law’s house, watching the Macy’s parade, eating, enjoying family time, and dozing on the couch while the kids play.
What’s your favorite song in the play?
All of them. Each one brings me joy, makes me laugh, makes me cry, and inspires me. I love “A Little Make Believe” as it ties into the theme of head vs. heart and imagination vs. reality. “Miracles” is the perfect song. It just is. I believe in Santa and the power of hope.