It’s everything a comedy about Christmas should be.
In a practically flawless opening night at Actors Theatre, A Christmas Story brought laughs, cries and a host of empathetic cringes as patrons were transported back to memories of their own childhood holidays.
Set in northern Indiana in the 1940’s, young Ralphie Parker (played for the second year by Silver Creek Middle School’s Henry Miller) is on a quest for the ultimate Christmas gift: a Red Ryder BB gun. Through his unceasing determination to secure this most-prized of presents whilst maintaining his invisibility to bully Scut Farkas (YPAS student Carter Caldwell), Ralphie entangles his family and friends in some interesting conundrums.
Fans of the 1983 movie will not be disappointed, as all of the classic scenes and melodramatic characters, including Ralphie’s pal, the squealing Flick (a spot-on Will DeVary) make their appearance.
The fast-paced action of the show never drops. From his first steps onstage to his final narration, Adult Ralph Parker (the articulate and impeccable Larry Bull) sets the stage as he reminisces on that fateful Christmas.
Justin R.G. Holcomb, as Ralphie’s Old Man, is hilarious in his physicality and vocal depth. Jessica Wortham, Ralphie’s mother, has captured the perfect combination of calming housewife and freaking-out mother. And together, the two anchor the production with solid chemistry and timing.
Never have I found scene changes to be so entertaining. The Actors Theatre interns brighten up an already glowing story as they dance and smile their way through choreographed chair placements. They all shine with their own wordless characters, but keep your eye on the particularly energetic elf in the teal Converse sneakers.
In their third annual production, director Drew Fracher and the cast and crew of A Christmas Story have found a way to make the normal routines of the holidays not only interesting, but shake in your seats funny.
A Christmas Story, by Philip Grecian, continues through November 27th. For the weekend of Nov. 11th only, $10 tickets are available by calling the box office (subject to availabilty and other restrictions). For other performances, tickets start at $24 and can be purchased online or by calling the box office at (502) 584-1205.
Photo: Henry Miller, Jessica Wortham, and Justin R.G. Holcomb by Alan Simons, Actors Theatre of Louisville