Who: The Central New York Playhouse
Where: Shoppingtown Mall – 3649 Erie Blvd. East Syracuse, NY
When: Dec. 5-13
With Christmas only a few weeks away, children and adults alike are gearing up for the holiday season. For nine-year-old boys like Ralphie, this means asking Santa for an official Red Ryder, Carbine Action, Two-Hundred Range Model Air Rifle (try saying that in one breath!), despite his mother’s warning that he’ll “shoot his eye out.” This December, The Central New York Playhouse recreated the classic 1983 film, “A Christmas Story,” into a play with a charm that brings the holiday spirit to life.
Set in 1930s Indiana, “A Christmas Story” is directed by Dan Rowlands and narrated through an adult Ralphie or “Ralph” (Ed Mastin) as he shares some delightfully funny Christmas memories from his childhood. During the two-hour show, which included a fifteen-minute intermission, Ralph narrates a reenactment of his childhood through a series of dream sequences and silly encounters with his friends.
In a dream sequence where Ralphie imagines himself as a cowboy, Ralph joins him in fighting against bad guys and saving damsels, creating an engaging and fun way of storytelling. At other times, when Ralphie was getting into all kinds of mischief, Ralph always placed himself in a spot that didn’t block Ralphie or the other actors.
Set Designers Rowlands and Justin Polly expertly crafted the set into three sections: a classroom, Ralphie’s kitchen and Ralphie’s living room. All sections functioned to exhibit scenes as close to the film as possible, with excellent use of props (the infamous leg lamp) and a clever choice in lighting to differentiate from day to night.
There were a few odd pauses during some of the narration. But, the confidence in Mastin’s voice made it unnoticeable. He always remembered to pick up where he left off and projected clearly enough so he was easy to understand. The kids, on the other hand, were the real stars of the show.
All of the kids remembered their lines and stayed focused for the duration of the play. However, the most impressive actor was one of the youngest of the bunch, Alex Wilson (Randy). Right from the beginning he said every one of his lines correctly and never broke character. Multiple times Wilson was instructed to say “I need to go wee-wee,” and each time he never missed a cue.
Ralphie and his companions, in this recreation of “A Christmas Story,” were a joy to watch. The enthusiasm these kids have is a reminder of what the holiday season is all about: friendship, family, and embracing your inner nine-year-old.