Can 'A Christmas Story' get any better? Yep, make it a musical
Think that the 1983 film, “A Christmas Story,” didn’t leave its mark on movie fans 35 years after the holiday classic premiered in theaters?
Actually, the story of young Ralphie Parker’s Christmas wish for a Red Ryder BB gun – despite his mother’s warning that “You’ll shoot your eye out” – has meant big business to the owner of the house on the South Side of Cleveland where much of the film was shot.
Some 80,000 people annually visit the Christmas Story House and Museum, according to the tourist attraction’s website, to view original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film.
Also, TBS and TNT will run their annual “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” marathon again this holiday season, starting at 8 p.m. Dec. 24 and running throughout Christmas Day.
The movie also spawned “A Christmas Story, a Musical,” which included a Broadway run, national tours and numerous regional productions.
Actors and Artists of Fayette County will offer its own production of the stage show on Dec. 13-16 at Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.
An 11-year-old homeschooled 6th-grade student from Dunbar, William Porter, will take on the iconic role of Ralphie in the production directed by Timothy William Dougherty of Munhall.
Porter has been performing at the Geyer for a few years, in productions including “The Jungle Book,” “School House Rock Live,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
He takes tap lessons at Pazaz Christian Dance Academy in Greensburg, piano lessons with Valerie Stipcak in Uniontown and karate at Diamond Karate in Mt. Pleasant.
William’s mom, Cassandra Porter, says her son enjoys watching Ralphie in the movie version of “A Christmas Story” and his favorite part of playing his character is “singing all of the songs.”
The musical score includes ballads and full ensemble numbers such as “Ralphie to the Rescue,” “A Major Award,” “Sticky Situation,” “Somewhere Hovering over Indiana” and “You’ll Shoot your Eye Out.”
Dougherty, in his first show at the Geyer for AAFC, said he chose to direct “A Christmas Story, the Musical” because “it’s a charming story and for the amazing score by Pasek and Paul. This is my first time involved with this show, but ever since it became a musical I have been interested in doing the show in some capacity.”
A lot to love about the musical
He says fans of the movie will love a lot about the musical, including memorable scenes such as the Leg Lamp “Major Award,” Ralphie’s friend, Flick, getting his tongue stuck to the flagpole; his brother, Randy, getting dressed in his snowsuit, and songs that will have the audience humming and singing along.
The cast also features Colten Smith as Ralphie’s younger brother, Randy; Rebekah Laughlin as their mother, Will Dixon as their dad and Ben Wren as the Narrator.
“The best part about this show that you walk away with is that warm, fuzzy feeling of family and the holidays,” Dougherty says, “and no matter how humble your Christmas may be, the most important thing is always the people that are closest to you in your life.”
He has been directing shows and performing for about 20 years, most recently with South Park Theater, Centre Theater Players and Apple Hill Playhouse. He has a BFA in musical theater performance from Point Park University.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.