By Fran Syverson
“You’ll shoot your eye out” is the only response 9-year-old Ralphie gets when he tells anyone his most-wanted gift for Christmas. His mother says it. His father says it. Even his teacher says it. Ralphie wants a BB gun. And not just any BB gun—it has to be genuine Red Ryder BB gun.
A Christmas Story first appeared as a movie in 1983, and soon became a holiday favorite. Those who are fans of the movie will welcome the familiar hilarious scenes. Onstage at the Playhouse, it has all the iconic elements in this story of a quirky mid-west family. There’s the exploding furnace belching black smoke—the wet tongue on a cold, metal lamppost—the Old Man’s proud prize of a weirdly shaped lamp. Through a series of rollicking skits, the laughter never stops.
Our narrator, an adult Ralphie, takes us back to the forties when his greatest desire was a BB gun. Jackson Kendall plays this part seamlessly as he moves from talking about a scene to being in the scene.
Andrea Stradling as Mother spends her time cooking or soothing her harassed husband, The Old Man (Richard Van Slyke.) Or telling Ralphie he’ll “shoot his eye out” if he gets a BB gun.
Everything about the set evokes a forty’s home, thanks to Charles Ervert, scenic designer. Ralphie’s room is loft-like, high over the kitchen with its vintage stove, oval framed picture, and double-hung windows. There’s a big, old-fashioned floor model radio (remember them?) and boys’ pennants hanging on the wall.
Because of the extended schedule, including school nights for the child actors, many roles are double-cast. Young Ralphie can be either Julian Moser or Griffin Sanford. Marshall Gluck and Kevin Ying alternate playing Randy. The teacher and elf are also played by two actors, Danon Dastugue and Karyn O’Bryant.
The roster of young actors includes Myles Hutchinson, Aidan O’Connor, Jude Gomez, Henderson Nguyen, Julianna Guzman-Ferreira, Daisy Kopolowski, Xochitl Gomez-Deines, Celeste Raynaud, Gideon Cooney Lebano, and Jocelyn Moore.
Christian Lebano directs A Christmas Story, which was adapted from semi-autobiographical stories
written by Jean Parker Shepherd, who then collaborated with Leigh Brown and Bob Clark on the movie script. Philip Grecian adapted that to the stage. Lebano and Estelle Campbell are the producers.
You’ll have lots of opportunities to fit A Christmas Story into your memory-making activities during the holiday season. Its expanded performance schedule includes weeknights and some days between Christmas and Dec. 31. Admission is $36 general, $33 seniors (65+), $25 youth (to age 21). Go online at www/sierramadreplayhouse.org to see available dates and make reservations, or call (626) 355-4318. For reservations for groups of 15 or more, phone (626) 836-2125.
The Sierra Madre Playhouse is at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Local eateries and free parking are nearby. For more information, phone (626) 355-4318, or visit the website, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org, for online ticketing.