Every family has their own holiday traditions. In my family it was “A Christmas Story”, the 1983 movie based on Jean Shepherd’s childhood anecdote, which became my children’s favorite Christmas movie. In fact, “You’ll shoot your eye out” has become a family catchphrase. Over the years it has become one of my favorite plays, although I was never all that fond of the musical. Ralphie, Randy, Flick and the gang are back, in Marian Theatre Guild’s production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical”. Don’t miss this opportunity to introduce your kids or grandkids to live theater.
“A Christmas Story: The Musical” opens at a radio station as humorist Jean Shepherd (Kevin Burgin) reminisces about a favorite Christmas memory.
It’s getting close to Christmas, and Ralphie (Ava Reese) is on a mission! Since he really, really wants for Christmas wants a genuine Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass and this thing that tells time in the stock, he has to figure out the best way to let his parents know what he wants. Unfortunately, every adult from Mother (Caroline Herrera) to Miss Shields (Susan Bobos) to Santa Claus (Deejai Halicky) warns him that he’ll shoot his eye out!
Mother is always there, taking care of the family, deferring to The Old Man (John Pindrock), and unflappable in the face of calamity. The Old Man is larger than life, with his colorful vocabulary – especially when he’s offstage dealing with clunkers in the coal-burning furnace or the Bumpus dogs. Winning a ‘major award’ in a contest is a thrill!
Ralphie doesn’t pay much attention to his younger brother Randy (Isabella Dawes), who rarely eats. Ralphie and his friends, Schwartz (Miriam Lung) and Flick (Adam Lung), like boys everywhere, were always on the alert for the neighborhood bully, Scut Farkas (Nora Wragg).
This production is unique in that they’ve chosen to cast girls as boys. That’s fine, many directors might choose to do that. On the other hand, Ralphie is supposed to be the older brother (by about 3 years), so it’s logical to assume that Ralphie will be taller than Randy – but not in this production. Both Ralphie and Randy spend way too much of their onstage time pulling at their wigs.
“A Christmas Story” has a special connection to Whiting – location! In case you didn’t know, Ralphie’s home town, Hohman, is actually Hammond. In fact, playwright Jean Shepherd grew up in my Dad’s old neighborhood in Hessville. My dad, Bill Lannin, lived on Cleveland Street and went to Warren G. Harding School with these guys (Flick and Schwartz were real people).
Kudos to the Marian Theatre Guild, celebrating their 90th consecutive season! MTG does two shows a year, a musical in November and a play in April. Their home theater, the auditorium at St. John Church in Whiting, is the ‘Taj meal’ of northwest Indiana community theater venues.
“A Christmas Story: The Musical” runs through November 17th at Marian Theatre Guild, St. John Church, 1849 Lincoln Avenue (119th Street entrance), Whiting. Performances are Saturday at 8:15, Sunday at 3:00. Tickets are $16, Seniors and Students $14. FYI (219) 473-7555.
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