DANVILLE — “A Christmas Story” is a fun, family-friendly way to enjoy the holiday season.
“It’s nice to take a break from shopping and decorating, and just sit down to be entertained,” director Amy Hegg said.
“It’s a delight of a show,” said Joel Ferren, who portrays the dad (or “the old man,” according to his onstage son). “It’s such an iconic Christmas show.”
Red Mask Players will present the show on two weekends, starting Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and also Dec. 13-15 at the Kathryn Randolph Theater, 601 N. Vermilion. Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows are at 7 p.m. and Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.
This is Red Mask’s winter fundraiser.
Santa Claus (Jerry Strain) will be available both Sundays for photos after the shows. Donations will be accepted.
All the elements of the beloved motion picture are here, Hegg said, including the exploding furnace and the boys’ experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamp post.
“A Christmas Story” is humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940s. It follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher and even Santa Claus at Higbee's Department Store, but the consistent response is, "You'll shoot your eye out!"
Other familiar elements include the school bully, the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin, a lamp shaped like a woman’s leg and Ralphie’s fantasy scenarios.
The story is told through the perspective of adult Ralph, played by Andrew Peters.
Other cast members are: Isaiah Easton, Alyson Ferren, Tayte Wolfe, Ann Soderstrom, Nate Reitsma Jr., Doyle Carter, Katie Zionic, Abby Hogg, Hayden Krause, Brody Krause, Lexi Krause, Lily Krause, Torrie Hegg, Amanda Brown and Tom Fricke.
The cast includes a range of ages, from third-graders to adults.
Hegg said the play is a little different from the movie in order to make it stage-friendly. But, overall, the story and the characters are the same.
“All the iconic scenes you see in the movie will be in the play,” she said.
Ferren, as the dad, will be working alongside his wife, Alyson, who plays Ralphie’s mother. The couple has appeared in several plays, but this is the first time they’ve portrayed spouses, he said.
Their daughter, Emma, and son, Noah, have appeared with their parents in a couple of productions.
As for playing a married couple onstage, Ferren said jokingly, “I think we’ve been typecast. Our characters do a lot of the same things as we do on real life.”
For example, in the play, the dad beat on the furnace while saying some choice words. “I do that on occasion at our house,” he joked.
Also, the dad in the play is a little harder on his children than he is, and the mother tries to smooth things over, which Alyson does.
Ralphie eventually sees his parents as not as harsh and punitive as he thought they were, especially at the end when he gets a bunny-pajama set for Christmas and his dad hints that it might disappear.
“I’m hoping for a big crowd,” Ferren said. “There’s something about sitting in a live theater that you don’t get in a movie.”
The play does have more touching moments that aren’t included in the movie.
The show is about two and a half hours long, including intermission.
“It’s a fun way to kick off the season,” Hegg said. “We want people to bring their families. It’s funny.”
The play will appeal to children in fourth grade on up, and is appropriate for all ages.
The movie came out in 1983, and was based on Shepherd’s 1966 book, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.” The movie later was turned into a play.