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A Christmas Story On Stage (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

The stage version of the classic movie is terrific! Nobody shoots their eye out.

It's all there.  You've seen the movie.  Most of us have seen it several times. Some people see it several times in a row during the annual 24-hour airing marathon on cable!  So we know the scenes, and it's a lot of fun to see them played out in person at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. 

Maybe the best-known moment is the triple-dog-dare...put your tongue on the frozen flagpole scene, and there it is. That's Micah Wilborn as a stuck Flick. Jack English is Schwartz (R) looking on. Both boys are a lot of fun in their respective roles.

Yes, there is a Leg Lamp!  Here it is with Tom Auclair who plays Raphie's dad, "The Old Man"..the winner of the Major Award!  He brings the expected grumpiness to the role but he also creates the likeable "Everydad" the story needs to work this well.

His comic counterbalance is Eryn Carman as Ralphie's mother.  She's very funny when she's frustrated with her husband and very sweet to her kids.  Eryn will make you laugh. 

There's the moment below when Evan Lennon as Ralphie yells, "Fuuuudge"..except (according to the narrator)...it's not really "fudge" he said.  That leads naturally into Ralphie's soap-in-mouth moment.  In the background below you see little brother Randy.  Finn Dufford plays him with just the right mix of whiny and cute.  He snorts into his oatmeal bowl, he can't get up when he falls down in his winter weather gear (remember?) and he has a bladder with bad timing. It's all there. 

There are the classroom scenes and the theme-writing assignment..with a teacher (Jen Lennon) who absolutely lives for grammar and proper use of margins.

London Lyle and Elizabeth Pond are funny and smart and engaging in their roles as the girls who alternately amuse and annoy the boys in the class. 

Not part ot this classroom is the other kid in A Christmas Story...the notorious Scut Farkus!  He's the neighborhood bully.  Mark Autry brings just the right amount of menace to the role as the tormentor of pre-teens.  

Yes, there is the moment when Ralphie explodes and takes out all his frustrations on the unfortunate Farkus.  It's all there.  

The recurring theme of course is the Red Ryder BB gun.  It's all Ralphie wants for Christmas. He plans and plots about how to get it.  He daydreams about why he needs it - to protect his family and friends from bad guys and raccoons and Indiana Pythons. We all know Ralphie gets the gun in the end no matter how many people warn him, "You'll shoot your eye out!" 

The whole story is woven together by Jason Lythgoe. (right, below)  He narrates all the action as the grown-up version of Ralphie.  

Under the clever direction of Joye Cook-Levy, he sometimes even wanders in and out of scenes like Thornton Wilder's "Stage Manger" in "Our Town".  The difference is that he's the central character of the story and not an anonymous voice. Jason does a fine job of transporting us all back to our own childhoods, when the Christmas presents we got and gave were the focus of the kid world for a few weeks every year.

Full disclosure:  Jen Lennon, who plays the teacher Miss Shields, is my sister.  Even Lennon, who plays Ralphie, is my nephew.

Jen makes some clever comedic choices, especially during some of Ralphie's daydream scenes..when she goes from astounded paper-grader to wicked witch.  Evan has been in several productions at the Fine Arts Center but never before in a role this big.  He carries it off beautifully. He is a very experienced and talented performer, at 12! 

Yeah, I'm a proud uncle and a proud brother but I would say these two did a great job even if I'd never met them.  

The whole cast comes together to make this a really entertaining experience.  The show has more kids in it than adults but they're all up to the task.  It's not the same as seeing the movie, it's wonderful in its own way...and it's all there.  

The sets and costumes and lighting are all top-notch, just as we've come to expect from the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company!

Go see it if you can. It works if you know the movie, and it works if you don't! 

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward

"A Christmas Story" runs Thursday- Sunday every weekend through December 23rd.  Ticket info is available here.  http://www.csfineartscenter.org/silverseason/christmas-story.html

All photos are courtesy of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

 

 

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