By Brittany Shepard
“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”
Nearly everyone knows this iconic line from the 1983 classic movie “A Christmas Story.” Many even say that the movie is their favorite Christmas film and have a tradition of watching it each holiday season. This year, however, Wiregrass-area residents can get their “A Christmas Story” fix by watching the story unfold live at SEACT’s holiday dinner theater December 4 – 9, 2017.
Each year, SunSouth Bank partners with SEACT to produce a holiday performance, and this year “A Christmas Story” was chosen. Directing the show is Chris Manasco, a science and theater teacher at Beverly Magnet School. Co-producing the play is Kendall Cirkis and Liz Smyth.
“What can I say that people don’t already know about this story,” said Kendell. “Everyone just loves the film, and the play is just as fun.”
The play is actually an adaptation of the film and not written by the same writer as the movie. An adult Ralph narrates the story about his favorite Christmas when he, called “Ralphie” as a kid, received his Red Rider BB gun with sundial and compass.
The movie is based on somewhat fictional but somewhat true anecdotes Jean Shepherd’s childhood. Jean Shepherd was an American storyteller, actor, radio personality and writer that helped write the screenplay for the film.
“The play itself is a memory sequence from the viewpoint of Ralph,” said Kendall. “He narrates the story while it is being played out by actors on the stage, and it truthfully follows the movie.”
Auditions for the 12 roles were held October 15-16, so that rehearsals could begin immediately. Winning the two main roles of adult Ralph and young Ralphie are Trey McKay and Chandler King, respectively. Other roles include the old man (Ralphie’s dad), Ralphie’s mom, his little brother Randy and school friends.
However, preparations began for the production long before auditions when the crew of nearly 20 people was put together in the spring. Everyone from producers, to costumers, to set builders to production have been working to make this holiday show one of the best yet. The set, in fact, will be a little different from what people might expect.
“Since the show is about the memories of this Christmas for adult Ralph, we really wanted to put a different spin on it in the way we market the show to the community,” said Kendall. “Our director decided that we should skip using the traditional images associated with the movie and use modern-looking icons that remind people of their favorite memories from the movie.”
For example, the “leg lamp” and Ralphie in a bunny suit along with Ralphie’s broken glasses are featured on the playbill and other marketing materials.
Another huge component to the holiday performance is the dinner.
“Our director really wanted a throwback to the 1940s (when the story is set) with the meal,” said Kendall. “So, we are having ‘not your mama’s bacon-wrapped meatloaf’ with herb roasted new potatoes, a zucchini and tomato bake along with a classic green salad and an old-fashioned apple crisp for dessert.”
The meal is being catered by Alexander’s Catering. Patrons will also be served coffee, water and tea and have the option to pre-order bottles of wine for their table prior to the show. There will also be a cash bar that opens at 5:30 p.m. on the nights of the performance.
Tickets for the performance, to be held at the Cultural Arts Center, are currently on sale and can be purchased at www.seact.com or by calling the SEACT office at (334)794-0400.
“They are already selling like hot cakes,” said Kendall.
Seats for the dinner theater are $40 per person, but patrons can also just view the show without the meal for $20 per person. The show lasts about two hours with a fifteen-minute intermission. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for the dinner theater and at 6:45 for those just viewing the show in regular seating. The dinner is from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. and the show begins promptly at 7:00 p.m.
“We are so grateful to SunSouth Bank for their sponsorship of our annual holiday performance for the second year in a row,” said Kendall. “It is such a great community partnership.”