CSU Theatre Presents Holiday Classic “A Christmas Story”

~ By Courtney Roling

Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun, rich-chocolate Ovaltine, the leg lamp, Chinese turkey, flagpoles and fire departments, soap poisoning, and more – just some of the favorite references from this beloved holiday classic. A play in two acts by Philip Grecian, A Christmas Story is based upon the classic American 1983 motion picture of the same title, written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, and Bob Clark.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, 1939, in the fictional northern Indiana town of Hohman, Ralphie Parker desperately wants a Red Ryder BB Gun and will do anything to make sure he gets it.

At CSU, the decision to put on A Christmas Story was not a difficult one for the theatre program.

“We read it and thought it would have great appeal to our community,” said Walt Jones, director of theatre at CSU. “We were also looking for a show that would involve the children from our summer theatre camp, ‘Kids Do It All,’ and A Christmas Story fit the bill.”

The audience can expect a performance that follows the movie quite closely, with only a few minor differences. There are certain scenes that are deleted and others that are expanded to facilitate the requirements of live theatre.

"There are scenic and costume changes that must be covered by additional dialogue," said Laura Jones, who is stage directing the production. "And while Jean Shepherd himself did the voice over in the film; in the play, the storyteller in the character of adult Ralphie who, reminiscing about his childhood, is physically represented on the stage by an actor-- guest artist and CSU theatre alumnus James Burns."

Yet even with this visual difference, the production stays true to the funniest scenes and themes for which A Christmas Story became so well known.

“The audience will recognize many of their favorite moments from the film, such as Ralphie's obsession with the official legendary Red Ryder BB gun everyone is sure he'll use to ‘shoot his eye out’-- as well as his translation of Little Orphan Annie's secret code after receiving his mail order decoder pin,” said Laura Jones. “And of course, when his father wins the infamous leg lamp, much to his mother's chagrin; and not to mention the theft of the turkey by the Bumpus hounds who live next door.”

Most of the main characters will be played by CSU undergraduates, including Tim Werth as the Old Man, Ralphie's father; Annie Booth as Ralphie's mother; Jasmine Winfrey as Miss Shields, Ralphie's teacher; and Sean O' Reilly plays the infamous Scut Farkas.

The roles of Ralphie, Randy, and the other children are filled by youth who have participated in CSU’s summer children’s theatre program, ‘Kids Do It All.’

"Managing all of the children and integrating them into our cast has largely been the responsibility of our CSU theatre students who are enrolled in the Teaching Creative Drama to Children course this semester,” said Laura Jones. "It’s been a great experience for everyone.”

With a lot of time and hard work going into bringing this holiday favorite to the stage, director and cast agree that watching these characters come to life is worth the effort.

“It's truly been exciting to watch these now-classic characters be re-enacted by our cast of college students and child actors from the community,” said Laura Jones. “They have all both embraced traditional interpretations and created their own personal ‘takes’ on the characters.”

This production marks the first annual holiday theatre production at CSU that will become a long-standing tradition in years to come

“It's such a great time for all kinds of celebration and a family trip to the theatre would be a wonderful tradition to start.”

A Christmas Story performance dates:

Nightly: Nov. 15, 16, 17, 23, 24, 29, 30, Dec. 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Matinees: Nov. 18, 25, Dec. 2, 9 at 2 p.m.