When it comes to favorite holiday movies, A Christmas Story undoubtedly ranks near the top of many peoples’ lists. Taking place in the early 1940’s, the plot revolves around young Ralphie Parker’s quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. While Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher, and even Santa Claus himself, the consistent response is always the same, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Against such insurmountable odds, it takes all of Ralphie’s imagination and cunning to ensure that his Christmas wish comes true.
Whether you’ve seen the movie a hundred times or are one of the few who have never seen it, you’ll certainly want to mark your calendars for the stage version of this beloved 1983 movie when it opens on the J. Frank Hillyard Middle School stage in early December, rounding out the Off Broadway Players 2022 theatrical season.
While excited to bring A Christmas Story to the stage, Michael Strawderman, the show’s director (and a life-long fan of the movie), realizes that he shoulders a huge responsibility in doing justice to a live rendition of the original movie. “Watching A Christmas Story has become such a holiday viewing tradition that many people know the movie by heart, even down to specific lines like ‘You’ll shoot your eye out’, and ‘Oooohhhh fuuuuuuuudge!’” But even if you are a die-hard fan of the movie and know every word by heart, this stage adaptation written by Phillip Grecian offers some new situations and characters that weren’t featured in the original movie. Don’t worry – all of the elements from the original movie are still intact, including the family’s temperamental furnace, Scut Farkas, the school’s bully; the boys’ experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost, and the Old Man’s major award, a lamp shaped like a woman’s leg in a net stocking. Strawderman has no doubt that the show will live up to the high expectations of its attending audience members.
Following in the footsteps of the ambitious set design featured in the Off Broadway Players’ most recent production of The Play That Goes Wrong, the set for A Christmas Story will continue to push the envelope with not only a full-size house occupying the mainstage, but a number of moving set units that include the Old Man’s Oldsmobile, Miss Shields classroom, the tree lot, and even the Santa Claus display at Higbee’s Department Store (complete with a slide)! “Thanks to the generosity of local antiques collector, Jay Fulk, many of the furniture items and kitchen appliances that decorate the set are actually from the 1940’s time period,” said Strawderman.
Perhaps one of the most charming elements of the show, however, is the cast. The age range of actors who bring the characters to life onstage range from as young as 9 years old to some in their early 60’s. Having taught middle school theatre for 30 years before retiring last year, Strawderman says that he is enjoying the opportunity to work with a diverse age range of cast members. Despite the novelty, he confesses that “the child actors (some featured in prominent roles) will undoubtedly steal the audience’s hearts with the excitement, joy, and energy that they bring to every performance”. He also believes that, much like the cast, audiences of all ages will enjoy their production of A Christmas Story as well. “Young children will connect to the trials and tribulations of being a kid while older audience members will enjoy a trip down memory lane reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ when the simple things in life were all that were needed to make you happy.”
A Christmas Story will be performed in the J. Frank Hillyard Middle School auditorium (226 Hawks Hill Drive, Broadway) on December 2, 3, 9, & 10 @ 7 p.m. and on December 4th & 11th @ 3 p.m. Tickets are $17 per person, $15 for seniors and students. General admission; no presale or reserved seating.