Eyes on the Prize – a Review of “A Christmas Story – the Play”

By Claire DeMarco

Ralphie Parker (Sebastian Madoni), like all other kids as they approach Christmas, anticipates a day full of fun and presents.  This upcoming holiday in Indiana in the 1940’s is especially exciting.  Ralphie has a specific Christmas wish that has absorbed all of his time, thought and attention.

What Ralphie wants for Christmas more than anything is an “official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle”.

Note:  Got that?

Although he doesn’t realize it, Ralphie’s determination for an “official Red Ryder Rifle…” actually turns into a clever marketing plan.  Subtle hints, overt ads mysteriously delivered in the mail, a homework paper with reasons why it’s important to have this gun contribute to Ralphie’s relentless pursuit.

Reliving this past Christmas season now as a grown up is Adult Ralph (John Shepard).  Interspersed among the tactics to reach his goal, Adult Ralph narrates and walks us through snapshots of his life as a child. He introduces us to Mother (Jamie Agnello) and Old Man (Tim McGeever), his brother Randy (Will Chambers), teacher Miss Shields (Hope M. Anthony), childhood friends and one bully.

Although most of the vignettes are not reflective of Ralphie’s quest for the ultimate prize they are memories of that time in his life.

The show is witty, hysterical and fun for all ages. 

McGeever is a rock star, specifically as he contemplates winning a “big prize” and his possessive control of the “big prize.”  His physical movements, facial expressions and comedic timing are spot on.

Note:  The “big prize” is a leg lamp with lampshade.  Nice gam, if I say so!

Shephard is great at blending his role as narrator into the scenes without distracting from the scenes themselves. He is both the storyteller and a quasi-participant.

Agnello is great as she uses gestures and body language without speaking, counteracting McGeever’s obsessive control of the “big prize.”

Anthony shows her chops with two different and clever comedy routines.

Madoni excels as Ralphie in a consistent and well-balanced performance.

Great job Colin Bozick, Will Chambers, Suraya Love Collins, Eamonn McElfresh, Zora Rose, Charlie Julian Stull, Jude Ziggy Glover, Adjoa Opoku-Dakwa and Nikolai Zevchak.

The set is reflective of a 1940’s era home – an ice box, console radio, red and white linoleum kitchen tiles, typical furniture pieces.  The transition from the home setting is smooth as the scene changes to a school room or a department store Santa Land.

Excellent direction by Michael Berresse.

A Christmas Story, the Play” was written by Philip Grecian and is based on the 1983 film also titled “A Christmas Story”.

-CED

“A Christmas Story – the Play” is a production of Pittsburgh Public Theater.  It runs from November 30 – December 23. For more information, click here.

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