Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 3:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 12:19 PM
By: Russell Florence Jr. - Staff Writer
— Ralphie Parker’s memorable quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun is back in the spotlight as the Victoria Theatre Association presents the Human Race Theatre Company’s excellent production of “A Christmas Story” through Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Victoria Theatre.
Here are five reasons why you should catch this entertaining showcase, adapted by Philip Grecian based on Jean Shepherd’s book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” and the iconic 1983 film of the same name.
IF YOU LOVED THE MOVIE, YOU’LL LOVE THE PLAY
Set in Hohman, Ind., in 1938, the play smoothly balances the endearing sentiments of Shepherd’s book with the kooky situations/images from the film.
But let’s face it – you’ll want to see the play because of what you remember from the film. Thankfully, you won’t be disappointed. The flagpole, the leg lamp, Ralphie’s Little Orphan Annie decoder pin, Randy’s oversized winter gear, the legendary Scut Farkus Affair, the tire fiasco, and the department store slide are all here just to name a few.
Director Igor Goldin even ensures you’ll hear a snippet of the infamous rendition of “Deck the Halls” from the Chinese restaurant.
But the play also provides some refreshing moments such as a jungle expedition fantasy, Esther Jane’s big crush on Ralphie, Randy’s inability to control his bladder, and a funny bit of living room stage business between The Old Man (Race resident artist Tim Lile) and Mother (Teri Clark Linden) centered on the leg lamp and a sandwich.
Charming Wright State University alum Greg Mallios truly shines and engagingly connects as Ralph Parker, narrating the proceedings with great warmth and enthusiasm.
Tapping into Shepherd’s extremely colorful vernacular is a huge challenge, but Mallios winningly steps up to the plate. For instance, when Ralph reminisces about his intimidating time with Santa (hilariously voiced by Lile), he spins the line “dazed in the presence of divine celebrity” into comic gold.
Casting is everything when it comes to a character-specific show like this, but an array of talented youngsters absolutely fit the bill.
The principal actors include admirable Eric Pettit (Winthrop in Wright State’s outstanding 2016 production of “The Music Man”) as Ralphie, Alex Glen as Randy, Jason Caldwell as Flick, energetic Noah Rutkowski as Schwartz, a wonderfully imposing Jack Lockwood using his physicality very convincingly as bully Scut Farkus, Danika Márquez as smitten Esther Jane, Reese Hornick as Helen, and ensemble members Emery Kimmins, and JaBreayle Lyle.
Featured opposite the kids, Race resident artist Katie Pees is an absolute hoot as Miss Shields and an overworked Higbee’s elf.
Scenic designer Dick Block, a Dayton native, supplies another terrific set for the Human Race. Block’s revolving, snowglobe-esque design fuels the show’s fluidity as the action goes back and forth between the Parker household, the school, Higbee’s, and more.
His previous Human Race credits include “The Full Monty,” “Avenue Q,” “Gem of the Ocean,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” and “The Tempest.”
Although the Red Ryder BB Gun is of utmost importance, the nostalgic beauty of this show, this heartwarming story, is in its potent reminder of what the Christmas season is all about: family, friendship, forgiveness, love, and hope.
Tickets: Prices range from $30 to $60. Purchase online at www.TicketCenterStage.com, at the Box Office, or call (937) 228-3630 or 888-228-3630. Group, military and student discounts available. For information: www.victoriatheatre.com