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Grand brings holiday classic 'A Christmas Story' to stage

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
Ellen Small is Ralphie's mother, Ray Cygrymus is Ralphie's father, Connor Vaccari is Randy and Matt Fedorek is Ralphie in the Grand's production of 'A Christmas Story.'

The seasonal barrage of Christmas television shows and specials is about to begin, but those who just can't wait can visit the Grand Theatre in Elizabeth, where “A Christmas Story” will be presented Thursday through Sunday.

Director Jeanie Cygrymus said fans of the movie should enjoy the stage production.

“There are some differences but the main things in the movie are definitely there,” she said. “You have the lamp and the Red Ryder BB gun. It's definitely true to the movie.”

What's different, she said, are a lamppost instead of a flagpole and the presence of the narrator — an adult Ralphie — in every scene.

“This is one of my husband's favorite movies,” Cygrymus said. “I knew of the movie and have watched it a few times but it wasn't one of those things where I said I had to direct it some day.”

She said she plans to watch when the movie is televised this season.

“It will be fun to see the difference between the movie and stage production,” she said.

Cygrymus said she was “a little nervous at first to bring this iconic movie to life” when she was asked to direct the stage show.

“You know people are expecting certain things and you want to be sure everyone fits their parts,” she explained.

The 17-member cast includes adults and youth.

“We are having a great time with the kids and adults,” the director said. “This is one of the first times I've worked with a mixed group. The children are learning from the adults, but the children have some pretty important parts.”

Bringing the movie to life are Tyson Sears as adult Ralphie; Ellen Small as Ralphie's mother; Ray Cygrymus as Ralphie's father — The Old Man; Amber Kocher as Ms. Shields; Matt Fedorek as Ralphie; Connor Vaccari as Randy; Boyd Skobel as Flick; Michael Mendicino as Schwartz; Zeke Stuart as Scut Farkas; Abbey Evanko as Esther Jane; Chloe Skerkoski as Helen; Jeff Fedorek as Santa/Radio Announcer; Angelina Jordan as Mary Kate; Emily Linder as Molly; Noah Cramer as Billy; Sage Smith as Patty; and Olivia Ratica as Stephanie.

She started as a performer, but Cygrymus took a break from the stage to when her daughters were born. When her husband Ray had a role in a show at the Grand and she did the sound, she thought she would like to try directing.

This is her third show as director at the Grand. She also helmed “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Daddy's Girl.” For the past three summers, the first-grade teacher has been the director of the South Park Children's Theater.

“I really enjoy directing,” she said. “It's exciting to see your ideas come to life and it's what you had envisioned.”

She said she hopes the audience “laughs a lot” at “A Christmas Story.”

“And I hope the last scene touches their hearts and brings back that Christmas feeling of being home,” she said. “I hope to get lots of laughter through the whole show but it makes people think of the meaning of Christmas.”

Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1916, or cfrazier@tribweb.com.

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