Artist Profile: Stage version of classic holiday movie ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ at Bellingham Theatre Guild

Lynda Purdie has her hands (and legs) busy this month since she has taken on the double task of stage manager and choreographer for Bellingham Theatre Guild’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street,” the holiday musical based on the 1947 movie starring young Natalie Wood. The play opens Friday, Nov. 28, and runs through Dec. 14.

Lynda’s husband, John, is currently president of the guild. Here’s how she became involved in the show.

Question: How did you come to live in Bellingham?

Answer: I was born in Tucson, Ariz., and lived in Albuquerque, N.M., for the first 10 years of my life, but I consider Vancouver, Wash., as my hometown. I graduated from Western Washington University in the early 1990s and began working for the Whatcom Family YMCA. When I met my husband and got married we moved around the country a lot, but I continued my involvement with the Y and returned to the Whatcom Family YMCA when we moved back to Bellingham in 2006. I currently serve as the adventure camp director.

Q: Have you always enjoyed dancing?

A: I started dancing at a young age when a dance studio opened up a block from my house. I continued studying ballet through college and was able to perform in many different productions with the Vancouver Dance Theater. My favorite roles were Odette in “Swan Lake” and Sugar Plum Fairy in the “Nutcracker.”

I also did a couple of musicals when I was in college. I got back involved with theater when my children started acting. All three of my girls have been very involved with local theater groups and even though I tried not to be the stereotypical “stage mom,” I would often stay for rehearsals and help backstage during their shows. This allowed me to see how a show gets put together from beginning to end and what it takes to make a show amazing.

Q: How did you become involved in this holiday musical at the guild?

A: All three of my girls have done shows locally, including at the Bellingham Theatre Guild, so we as a family have been around the guild for many years. When they announced that they were doing “A Chorus Line” last season, one of my favorite shows of all time, I decided that maybe it was time to get myself back involved with dance. I was lucky enough to work on that show as the assistant choreographer with some amazing people and realized that I would love to learn more about putting on a show.

When Ed and Julie Zavala-Marantette announced they were going to direct “Miracle on 34th Street,” I asked if I could help out with the show. I signed on as stage manager and have also taken on the role of choreographer, with a lot of help from cast members.

It has been so great working with the cast and crew that has been assembled for this show. Not only do we have a cast that spans the ages of 6 to 60-ish, we have seasoned veterans as well as people who this is either their first show or first show in many years, which is typical of a show at the guild.

Q: This is a busy time of year, so why should people come to the performance?

A: There are so many shows to see during the holiday season, so I realize it will be difficult for families to choose which ones to attend. This musical, I believe, has not been done locally for some time.

The storyline stays fairly true to the original movie. A white-bearded gentleman claiming to be the real Santa Claus brings about a genuine miracle, spreading a wave of love throughout New York City, fostering camaraderie between Macy’s and Gimbels department stores, and convincing a divorced cynical single mother, her somber daughter, and the entire state of New York that Santa is no myth.

I think people will be leaving the show having a renewed faith in Santa and humming some catchy tunes written by Meredith Willson (who wrote “The Music Man”). I know I do after every rehearsal.

Q: What do you enjoy about living in Bellingham?

A: Family is very important to my husband and me, and we returned to Bellingham so that our children would be near grandparents and other relatives. It has been such a blessing to be closer to family, and we have really connected to the Bellingham community as well. I am especially impressed with the community’s support of the arts and the amount of opportunities children and adults have to be involved in all levels of theater and dance.