The Sierra Madre Playhouse’s holiday hit of last Christmas season is back this year with some new cast members and more fun. “A Christmas Story” opens Nov. 23 and will run through Dec. 30.
Back in the 1960s, humorist, writer, raconteur and TV and radio personality Jean Shepherd (1921-1999) was the undisputed king of late night radio on the East Coast. His live broadcasts from the Limelight Café in Greenwich Village late on Saturday nights on WOR-AM became appointment listening for millions of fans. (This was a decade before Garrison Keillor and Saturday Night Live made their way onto the airwaves. This was when people still listened to AM radio.)
Shepherd told stories. Many of them were suggested by incidents in his own life growing up in Hammond, Ind. Although his radio shows were unscripted, he eventually began to put his stories into print, adopting a fictional surrogate for himself, Ralphie Parker. They were collected in books, including “In God We Trust,” “All Others Pay Cash,” “Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories,” “Other Disasters,” “The Ferrari in the Bedroom,” and “A Fistful of Fig Newtons.”
In 1983, the movie “A Christmas Story” was released based on his first volume. Shepherd wrote the screenplay with Leigh Brown and director Bob Clark, who was best known for the Porky’s trilogy. The film has become something of a classic in its genre.
Sierra Madre Playhouse is presenting the stage adaptation of “A Christmas Story” as its holiday attraction. The Parker family gets its Christmas tree. Ralphie’s dad wins a very special prize in a contest. Ralphie is pursued by a girl in his class. Ralphie is pursued by the class bully. And most famously, Ralphie sets off on a campaign to acquire his most-desired Christmas present, a Red Ryder BB air rifle, only to be warned repeatedly, “You’ll put your eye out, kid.”
Philip Grecian has written the stage adaptation. His credits also include adaptations of “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “In His Steps.” His original works include “The Dragon of Nitt,” “The Lion and the Lyre,” “Little Pills” and “Toby Saves the Farm.”
Christian Lebano directs “A Christmas Story.” He is the artistic director of Sierra Madre Playhouse. He is familiar to Playhouse audiences for his admired stage turns as an actor in shows including “Bee-luther-hatchee,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Our Town” and “God’s Man in Texas.” His multiple directing credits include “Deathtrap” (Ovation Award), “Woman in Mind” (L.A. Times Critics Choice), “The Glass Menagerie,” “4000 Miles,” “Battledrum,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and most recently, “The Gin Game.”
The company of actors for “A Christmas Story” includes Zoe Cox, Danon Dastugue, Kennedy Farr, Marshall Gluck, Jude Gomez, Myles Hutchinson, Jackson Kendall, Charlotte Li, Lucas Lim, Jax Malcolm, Andre Mora, Jade Riley, Griffin Sanford, Andrea Stradling, Sawyer Valin, Richard Van Slyke and Kevin Ying.
See the Playhouse’s modern holiday classic this year. Share the warmth, joy and laughter of Ralphie Parker’s most memorable Christmas as Sierra Madre Playhouse presents “A Christmas Story.”
Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024. General admission is $45, $40 for seniors (65 and older) and $25 for youths (up to 21 years old). For reservations call (626) 355-4318.