Sierra Repertory Theatre presents a stage adaptation of the nostalgic holiday film, “A Christmas Story,” which opens tonight and continues through Dec. 18 at the East Sonora Theatre on Mono Way.
The 1983 movie has become a bona fide Christmas perennial with its affectionate, wacky and realistic portrayal of an American family’s typical Christmas joys and travails. The drama follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle under the tree for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, father, his teacher and even Santa Claus himself. The consistent response: “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
“It’s always fun and challenging to translate iconic holiday movies to the stage.” SRT Artistic Director Scott Viets said. “We’ve done it before with “White Christmas,” “It’s A Wonderful Life” and now, “A Christmas Story.” These shows are very well-written and evoke a warm nostalgia for holidays past – and they are challenging in that you are working with movies that are so beloved. There are certain expectations of how it should feel and look when presented on stage. The nature of it being live will make it fresh and unique while hopefully capturing the essence of what continues to make these stories so enduring decade after decade.”
In the stage adaptation the adult Ralph serves as the play’s leading character and narrator, the storyteller on stage who reminiscences about his childhood. All the elements from the cherished motion picture are here, including young Ralphie Parker’s shocking discovery that his Little Orphan Annie decoder pin is really a device to promote Ovaltine; the family’s temperamental exploding furnace; the Bumpus hounds; the school bully Scut Farkas; the boys’ experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost; a major award in the shape of a leg; Ralphie’s fantasy scenarios; and most crucially, Ralphie’s unstoppable campaign to get Santa – or anyone else – to give him a Red Ryder air rifle.
Viets said the show is interesting because it’s one of the few instances whereby the children outnumber the adults in cast size.
“The kids in this show are so important because it’s basically what the play is about: life as seen through the eyes of ten-year-olds,” Viets said.
Twelve-year-old Joey Fitzgerald plays the role of young Ralphie Parker and Carter Peterson plays the school bully. Other children rounding out the youth cast include Noah Diamond, Cole Harvey, Autumn Jachetta, Ruby James, Kallie Stofle and Jacob Tangenberg.
The adult cast is headed by SRT newcomer Kevin McKillip as Ralph/The Narrator. McKillip makes his home in Chicago, has appeared at theaters across the country and has been nominated three times for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Supporting Actor. Kevin Crowley also appears for the first time at SRT in the role of the The Old Man. Crowley is an actor and director with Second City and has also appeared at theaters nationwide. Other adults in the cast include Cathy Schenkelberg returning to SRT to play Ralphie’s Mother, and SRT newcomer Dionna Eshleman as Ralphie’s teacher, Miss Shields.
The set is designed by Dana Moran Williams with costumes by Diana Newington. SRT resident artists complete the production team: lighting design by Michael Sali, properties design by Matt Sweetland, and stage management by Emily Gatesman.
“A Christmas Story” opens tonight and runs through Dec. 18 with performances at 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays; at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and at either 2 or 7 p.m. Thursdays. A special question and answer “talk back” will follow the Dec. 1 performance. Tickets cost from $32 to $37, with senior, student and child discounts available. The show is rated G for audiences six and up (children under the age of six are not allowed in the theatre). For tickets and information, visit www.sierrarep.org or call the Box Office at 209-532-3120.