News & Notables from the Division of Performing Arts

Act 1 to Present Perennial Holiday Favorite "A Christmas Story"

by Roseann Damico Schatkowski | Nov 08, 2012

Act 1 rings in the Christmas season with the popular holiday favorite “A Christmas Story,” adapted by Philip Grecian and based on the motion picture by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, and Bob Clark.

“A Christmas Story” runs November 28 to December 9, 2012 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, Center Valley, PA. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is an added matinee on Saturday, December 1 at 2:00 PM. A talk back with the director and cast is scheduled for Sunday, December 2 following the 2:00 PM performance. There is a morning matinee on Monday, December 3 at 9:45 AM.

Ticket prices are $23 for adults and $21 for students and seniors on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $26 for adults and $24 for students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Group discounts are available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda box office at 610-282-3192. Please call soon as seats are filling fast.

Originally a 1983 motion picture, “A Christmas Story” is based on the short stories and semi-autobiographical anecdotes of author, raconteur, and humorist Jean Shepherd, including material from his books “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” and “Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories.” The film has since become a holiday classic and is shown numerous times on television during the Christmas season.

The story, taken from Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940s, follows nine-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to find a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher, and even the local Department Store Santa himself; to his dismay, consistently receives the response, "You'll shoot your eye out." All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the family's temperamental exploding furnace; the school bully; the boys' experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost; the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin; Ralphie's father winning a lamp shaped like a woman's leg in a net stocking; Ralphie's fantasy scenarios; and more.

DeSales Performing Arts Associate Professor of Theatre Steven Dennis directs the production. "While based in New York working as an actor, friends lent me a VHS copy of “A Christmas Story” in the late 1980s,” recalls Dennis. “I thought it was cute, but later it grew on me. Over the years, I began to appreciate it more and more as I accumulated more Christmas memories myself, enhanced by my young nephews and nieces. Now I actually like the play more than the film.”

Acting alongside the university’s theatre majors are five young Lehigh Valley actors, four of whom are making their Act 1 debut. Sixth grader Luke Csordas and fifth grader Kyle Nord share the coveted role of Ralphie. Luke attends Eyer Middle School and recently performed as a "Newsboy" in The Civic Theatre's October production of “Gypsy.” Kyle is a student at Southern Lehigh Intermediate School where he played The Wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood.”

 Chris Roeder plays Ralphie’s younger brother, Randy. A fourth grade student at Southern Lehigh Intermediate School, Chris was "boy" in last summer’s Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival productions of  “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Rounding out the younger cast are eighth grade homeschooled student Kelly Donah and SouthernLehigh Intermediate sixth grader Elizabeth Kanzler, sharing the role of Esther Jane. Kelly appeared as Zuzu in Act 1’s 2008 production of "Merry Christmas, George Bailey" and Elizabeth appeared Louisa in The Sound of Music and Devon in Bullies Anonymous.

 “Whenever we program a play which requires younger actors, we do so with a small degree of trepidation,” says Division Head John Bell. “It’s a matter of facing the unknown. With our college-aged actors, we know the casting pool and pretty much know that we can cast each role. When we need younger actors, we’re taking a bit of a chance that we can find truly talented and committed youngsters who will be able to be comfortable and integrate themselves into a college-aged company. With ‘A Christmas Story’ the younger actors, especially the boys playing Ralphie Parker, are central to the success of the show. Well, we hit the jackpot with fine group of youngsters.”

Adds Dennis, “having these kids in the rehearsal room makes capturing that ‘Christmas Magic’ more authentic for both me and the entire DSU cast."

The demands of creating numerous, believable indoor and outdoor settings are ably handled by Act 1’s resident creative faculty team: scenic designer Will Neuert, costume designer Amy Best, and lighting designer Elizabeth Elliot. Senior Performing Arts theatre major Kaitlin Morton serves as stage manager.

The Labuda Center is fully accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.

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