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Today is Friday, May 6, 2016

Christmas Story a must-see play

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I have to be honest here: I’m tired of “A Christmas Story.” 

I’d never seen the movie until 2000, when the cute boy from next door insisted we watch it. And we did. About three times, because TBS plays it on loop all Christmas long. 

I kind of hated it, but I obliged. 

Three years later, we brought our son home from the hospital on Christmas Day, “A Christmas Story” running non-stop in the background as our toddler opened her Christmas gifts, I nursed a newborn and had a scary medical episode. I kind of wanted to shoot Ralphie’s eye out myself after that. 

I haven’t watched the movie since, or I’ve tried not to, but I have to admit I was curious about its stage adaptation at the Ruffin. After a busy day at Dickens Christmas on the Square, we dragged our tired bodies to the theater and settled in with pickles and popcorn so my children could be introduced to their father’s most favorite Christmas story. 

And we were not disappointed. 

By Saturday night’s show, the cast had already logged two performances, one just hours before the evening run, and if they were tired it didn’t show (and that’s a big compliment considering most of the cast is made up of children). 

Trey Godsey stars as young Ralphie and, let me spoil this for you, he is fantastic in this role. Logan Smith, who plays Randy, and Rhonda Castleman (Mrs. Parker) have great comedic timing. Timm Bentley plays the aloof Old Man very well (and he has experience, having reprised the role he played in 2006). 

There is great chemistry between the characters, too. My children and I laughed through the entire play – and so did the entire audience. 

Unlike in the movie, on stage the grown-up Ralph, played by Keith Moschitta, is seen and plays a big role. One of my favorite scenes was when he was standing over young Ralphie, watching as he wrote out his wish for the official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200 shot range model air rifle with the compass and the thing which tells time on the stock. 

I loved the set design, the blocking, full use of the house and the audience participation aspect. Cozset Jones, cast and crew, you’ve done well with this one. You should all be very proud. 

The Christmas season is known for its blockbusters, but I’m going to encourage you to skip the box office and, instead, support these local artists because they’ve done a great job of bringing a Christmas classic – even one despised by the grinchy editor of the local newspaper – to a new level. 

If you’ve not yet seen the play, I encourage you to go. The last run will be Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students, seniors and military. Buy your tickets in advance at the theater’s website, ruffintheater.org.

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