A Christmas Story Review

For those who celebrate the Christmas season, traditions are as large a part of the festivities as, say, putting up a Christmas tree or even the idea of Santa Claus himself. Their inclusion is what gives the holiday an extra something special that warms the hearts of those who partake. For many, the annual viewing of the 1983 yuletide comedy A Christmas Story is just such a tradition. Now, thanks to Noble Fool Theatricals at Pheasant Run Resort, that tradition can be taken to a whole new level with the stage adaptation of A Christmas Story.

Running now through December 27, A Christmas Story takes the classic movie and adapts it for the live stage, keeping it as true to the movie as possible.

Utilizing the stage to its fullest, A Christmas Story takes every aspect of the movie and presents it, rather expertly, on a single set stage, with certain aspects being left up to the imagination of the audience.

Mother (Julie Ganey), Randy (Michael Etzkorn), Ralphie (Gabriel Harder) and The Old Man (Tom McElroy) gather around the infamous Leg Lamp Award.

The actors in the play do a phenomenal job of faithfully portraying the characters that we all know and love from the original film: Young Ralphie (played by Gabriel Harder) invokes the innocence and charm of the character whereas Randy, his brother (Michael Etzkorn), plays the perfect “annoying” little brother. The parents (Julie Ganey and Tom McElroy) are the perfect heads of this Nuclear Family - as if they were plucked from the 1950's and posited on stage. And Ralphie’s friends and teacher (played by Julia Joyner, Sterling Joyner, Rebecca Roy, Garrett Lee Weaver, Charlie Zimmer, and Mary Hollis Inboden) fleshed out this trip down memory lane.

The only “new” element that was added to this perfect holiday story was the addition of the narrator as an actual character, as opposed to a simple voice over.

Ralph (John Gray, left) narrates his memories as Little Ralphie (Gabriel Harder) and his aspirations of being a Cowboy.

John Gray plays the grown up Ralphie as he leads the audience back through his childhood memories. He tells the audience a tale of what is meant to him to be a child growing up in the 1950's, as well as giving us a peek into the mentality of a child at Christmas time - their desires, concerns, and their point of view over their surroundings. For many, Ralphie’s experience is all too familiar, and in A Christmas Story, it is distilled into its purest essence, almost making it the summation of childhood itself, even for children today.

Just like the movie, the stage version of A Christmas Story reminds us of  the fact that, despite the half a century difference, a child’s view of Christmas and all that it entails is still the same. Sure, the times have changed, and toy safety laws now prohibit most of the toys mentioned in the story (including the famed Red Rider BB Gun), but the essence what it is about rings true to this day, and millions of American children and adults to this day see themselves in the innocence and wonder that is portrayed in Ralphie.

(left to right) Classmates Ester Jane (Rebecca Roy), Helen (Julia Joyner), Scut (Stirling Joyner), Schwartz (Charlie Zimmer), Ralphie (Gabriel Harder), and Randy (Michael Etzkorn, bottom) stare in disbelief after “double-dog daring” Flick (Garrett Lee Weaver, center-right) to stick his tongue on a frozen lamp post!

A Christmas Story runs now through December 27 at the Pheasant Run Resort at 4052 E. Main st. in St. Charles, IL. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.noblefool.org, or call the theater box office at (630)584-6342.  

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