GIBSON CITY – The cult classic “A Christmas Story” is one of the country’s favorite Christmas movies, and Friday and Saturday, the ACT Theatre Company will present “A Christmas Story, The Musical,” which tells the popular story of Ralphie’s Christmas wish through up-tempo songs.
Musical numbers like “When You’re A Wimp” and “Up on Santa’s Lap” are what make the stage version even funnier than its movie counterpart, said cast member Cathy Walker-Steidinger.
“The songs add to the humor in a way that’s just different from the movie version,” she said.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12. All shows will be performed at Father Kirk Hall, located just south of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 534 North Wood in Gibson City.
The musical follows the movie's plot line fairly closely and tells the story of a young boy named Ralphie who has one big wish for Christmas. A life-size leg lamp, bright pink bunny pajamas, a cranky department store Santa and a dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the obstacles that stand between him and a Red Ryder BB gun.
Director Ann Spangler said it’s not only the music but the actual presence of the narrator, played by Walker Willis, that adds another dimension to the musical.
“There is a lot of added humor and nostalgia from his physical presence in the scenes,” Spangler said.
Spangler picked the musical not only because it’s a favorite story of hers, but because of the actors and actresses she expected would be in the cast.
“I knew I had the right kids to bring it to life,” she said. “Liam Killian has Ralphie's innocence-mixed-with-mischief down to a science.”
Liam said although he had seen the movie in elementary school, he has watched it a few additional times to help prepare for the role. Cast as Genie in ACT’s summer production of “Disney’s Aladdin Kids,” he said it’s been a challenge to get his homework done before practice. But he is looking forward to another comedic performance.
“I really enjoy when people get the jokes and laugh loudly,” Liam said. “It gives us a lot of energy to keep doing the play.”
The cast also includes Ashlyn Allemand, Amanda Broaddus, Gabby Dammkoehler, Melanie Dammkoehler, Rylan Davis, Brodie Doman, Andrea Dunahee, Sophie Hafer, Rachel Harmet, Haven Hathaway, Katie Kamman, Dan Kearfott, Shelbie Kearfott, Dean Kidd, Alex Killian, John Massey, Emma Reynolds, Nate Schutte, Emily Spangler, Shannon Spangler, Brian Steidinger, Grace Steidinger, Jeremy Steidinger, Katie Steidinger, Cathy Walker-Steidinger, Kelsey Whitehouse, Phil Whitehouse, Joanna Willis, Lucy Willis and Taylor Willis.
That entire cast is included in “Ralphie to the Rescue,” which Spangler said is her favorite number in the show.
“It encompasses the fantasy sequence from the movie where Ralphie confronts Black Bart. It's a big production number involving the entire cast, and we have a guest villain for that one."
The sound engineer is Todd Thomas, and music is provided by Megan Whitehouse.
Families should be aware that "A Christmas Story, The Musical" closely follows the 1983 film, which was rated PG. There are moments of mild language and suggestive humor.
"A Christmas Story, The Musical" was written by Joseph Robinette. Music and lyrics are by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. It is based upon the motion picture, "A Christmas Story," distributed by Warner Brothers, which was written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark and upon "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash," written by Jean Shepherd. The show and all materials are provided through Dramatic Publishing Company, Woodstock, Ill.
Tickets are $12.50 per person for general admission seating. Tickets can be purchased on line at tinyurl.com/ACTTICKETS or by calling 217-641-3000. Tickets will also be available at the door. Doors will open thirty minutes before show times.