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SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PAST

DAN ROEBUCK'S HOLIDAY `VISIT' TO VALLEY IS SIMPLY A `MIRACLE' BACKSTAGE

The Morning Call Newspaper Company
by Myra Yellin Outwater (a free-lance writer)
Friday, December 12, 1997
Scott's comments: See "Other" section for more details about the play "Miracle"


Coming home to the Lehigh Valley for the holidays isn't so easy these days for Bethlehem native and Hollywood actor Dan Roebuck now that he and his wife have two babies under 2 years old. But this year, his creative spirit will be represented in Bethlehem in the Pennsylvania Playhouse production of "Miracle," which continues weekends through Dec. 21. Roebuck wrote "Miracle" for the Playhouse in 1983.

"That was my first play," said Roebuck in a telephone interview from his home in California, two days before leaving for San Francisco to film another episode in Don Johnson's television show, "Nash Bridges." "I was flattered that they wanted to do it again, but as I reread it, I knew that it needed a lot of rewriting."

Roebuck left Bethlehem in 1983, the day after "Miracle" opened, heading for Los Angeles and a film career. Within four years, he was hired as a regular on the "Matlock" television series.

"Since I wrote `Miracle' in 1983, my sense of dialogue has improved and so has my sense of humor," confessed Roebuck. "The original jokes needed to grow up."

Before he left for California, Roebuck was an active member of the Lehigh Valley theater community. He wrote "Miracle" because the Playhouse was looking for a family holiday show.

"I wanted to write a feel-good holiday show, so I based it on the classic movie `Miracle on 34th Street,' " said Roebuck. "But instead of setting it in Macy's, I wanted to set the show in the Lehigh Valley in (the now defunct) Hess's and Leh's. I remembered the Christmases at Hess's when I was a child. I even wrote in characters resembling Max Hess and Mr. Leh."

While Dan Roebuck will not be here for this "Miracle," another Roebuck, his mother, Elaine, will be backstage at the Playhouse, handling props. "After she finishes, she is coming to California," said Roebuck. "This will be the first time my family will be spending Christmas in California with us."

"Miracle" continues at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 21 at Pennsylvania Playhouse, Illicks Mill Road, Bethlehem. Tickets: $10. 865-6665. [story continues without Dan]