by Lorie Lewis Ham
As we approach the Christmas season there are many holiday shows hitting the stage over the next several weeks—White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and A Christmas Story among them. A Christmas Story was the first of those shows to hit the stage this season when it opened at Good Company Players’ 2nd Space in Fresno on October 27.
Many may remember the story from the 1980s movie of the same name. For those not familiar with the movie or play, director Robert Sanchez shared the basic plot. “The play takes place in 1940s Indiana and centers on young Ralphie Parker, who desperately wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. Unfortunately, most of the people in his life (including his parents, his teacher and even Santa) seem to oppose the idea with the simple statement, ‘You’ll shoot your eye out’. Ralphie must try to convince everyone that this is an appropriate gift, all the while going through the struggles that come with growing up, including dealing with bullies, school and even a girl.”
Robert has had a fondness for the movie since watching it often with his family at Christmas time as a child so he was happy to get the chance to direct the play. He also liked the idea of being a part of a piece that would be appealing to families over the holiday season.
“It is always fun for an audience to relate to the action onstage and to identify with its characters,” continued Robert. “The fact that A Christmas Story focuses on a typical American family during the holidays, allows for much to be identified with. During the course of the show, the audience gets to observe the family experience at its best. Even the mundane is handled with humor. The fact that the movie has become a cult classic has also added to the popularity of this show. Audiences enjoy experiencing their favorite scenes from the movie, including the iconic leg lamp up close and personal.”
Although the play is written to be performed on a big stage, Robert stated that presenting it on the smaller stage at 2nd Space was not a problem thanks to their wonderful set designer David Pierce and his team. “Through the ingenuity of our set designers nothing is compromised, what is gained however is the intimacy that the 2nd Space Theater is so great at providing.”
The cast is made up of 17 performers, 10 of which are children. The cast includes Samuel Linkowski as young Ralphie, Cole Cowger as his kid brother, Brian Rhea as grown-up Ralph and the show’s narrator, Jonathon Hogan as the Old Man, and Elizabeth Stoeckel as Mother. Those who have seen past GCP productions of this show may have had the pleasure of seeing Glee star Chris Colfer in the role of Ralphie in 2002. Many of the costumes date back to that production.Elizabeth Stoeckel, who has directed the past two productions of this show for GCP, is on stage this time as the mother. Something extra special for Elizabeth about this production is that there will be a benefit performance of the show on Wednesday, December 14 to raise money for her daughter Giana’s missionary work in Johannesburg, South Africa. That night will include hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle. For more information about the benefit performance, you can contact Elizabeth at 559-307-2790.
A Christmas Story will run through December 18 and tickets can be purchased by contacting the GCP box office. For more detailed information check out the local theatre event page here at KRL.
So if you’re looking for a fun holiday night out for the entire family, check out A Christmas Story at GCP’s 2nd Space in Fresno. “A Christmas Story is a show which has something for everyone,” said Robert. “Although it is a comedy, there is a lot of heart in the piece as well. It truly is one of the funniest Christmas shows around.”
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