Pensacola, Florida
Friday October 24th 2014

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A Christmas Story Comes to Life

By Jennie McKeon

Instead of watching “A Christmas Story” for 24-hours straight on TBS, take in the stage production at Pensacola Little Theatre.

“I actually prefer the play to the movie,” said Stephen Lott, who plays the role of the narrator, who is the adult version of the protagonist, Ralphie Parker. “I saw the play first, which may be why I prefer it. The play is sweeter, more tender-hearted.”

The story that Lott narrates is about nine-year-old Ralphie Parker who only wants one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder BB Gun. Every time he expresses his Christmas wish, adults tell him “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

“People connect to it,” Lott said of the story. “The power of Santa Claus—that part makes this play universal.”

When it came down to re-telling the story on stage, the directors Katherine Bishop and Colton T. Cash insisted that the play be separate from the film.

“We are not trying to exactly recreate the movie because where is the fun and creativity in that?” Bishop said. “Since there are so many similar elements, it has been fairly easy to strike a balance between the familiarity of the movie and the flow of the stage play.”

“You have to be true in spirit, but it’s a mistake to recreate the movie,” Lott added. “The only thing that stays the same is the leg lamp.”

Apart from the infamous, fishnet leg lamp the crew has its work cut out for them when it comes to transforming the stage into a 1940s set reminiscent of Norman Rockwell.

“We are fortunate to have a great production crew, including Bob Gandrup, who created a very detailed and period appropriate set for us,” Cash said. “We also have an awesome costumer, Christy Bauder, who (with the assistance of the cast parents) has gathered a great selection of period appropriate costumes. These elements will contribute to the audience really feeling like they’re in 1938.”

The cast was also given a slight history lesson to fit into the era.

“We have tried to direct them to act in ways that people would have in the 1940s,” Bishop said.  “Hopefully the audience will feel a bit of nostalgia for days past and of course the warm fuzzy feelings that we relate to Christmas. I’d really like for the audience to leave with a smile on their faces.”

As “A Christmas Story” is a Treehouse production, it is very family friendly and so Ralphie’s dad gets a language makeover.

“There are no curse words, and in fact the ones that the father says in the movie have been substituted for funny words like ‘goat dandruff’ and ‘summoning bins’ by the play authors,” Bishop said.

The story is well-loved and received, because kids are at the heart of the story and so it should be no surprise when they steal the stage.

Seven-year-old Jace Champlin will make his acting debut as Randy, the little brother. His mom says that the normally shy boy has taking a liking to acting and jumped up and down when he got the part. His favorite parts are when he gets to run across the stage and “putting my face in the oatmeal.”

Whether you’re a long-time fan of “A Christmas Story” or a newbie, don’t miss this classic. Want to celebrate Christmas as the Parkers? Sign up for the Chinese dinner after the December 9 matinee.

“It’s a fun way to start the holidays,” Lott said. “It’s a very special show.”

A CHRISTMAS STORY
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. December 7, 8, 13, 14, & 15; 2:30 p.m. December 9, 16
WHERE: Pensacola Little Theatre, 400 S. Jefferson St.
COST: $14-$30
DETAILS: 432-2042 or pensacolalittletheatre.com