Alhambra brings beloved ‘A Christmas Story’ to life


Few Christmas movies receive more airtime than “A Christmas Story.”

The 1983 film about 9-year-old Ralphie Parker’s quest for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas has become a much-beloved holiday tradition, with some TV channels airing around-the-clock marathon viewings on Christmas Eve. So popular, in fact, is “A Christmas Story” that to mention the film’s name is likely to prompt recitations of its catch phrase: “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

This holiday season, the Alhambra Theatre & Dining puts its own spin on “A Christmas Story” with a stage adaptation that brings to life all of the film’s most memorable scenes while adding new depth and perspective on the characters themselves. In the Alhambra’s production, which at press time had sold out for the remainder of its holiday run, the film’s unseen narrator – Ralphie as an adult – becomes an actual character on stage, who not only narrates the action but also at times interacts with his family members and younger self. While most of the play’s action occurs in the Parker Family kitchen, some key scenes – including the famous visit to Santa in the department store – are recreated more precisely than one would think possible within the confines of a stage setting. The theatrical production also does a particularly fine job of presenting Ralphie’s childlike reveries, which were such a central part of the film’s charm.

As Adult Ralph, actor Ethan Paulini adopts a more humorous, relatable persona than the film’s over-the-top, dramatic narration provided by author Jean Shepherd, upon whose book the film was based.

Young Ralphie, meanwhile, is portrayed by Oliver Carson. A 4th grade student at Palmer Catholic Academy, Carson presents a more innocent Ralphie than the film’s more cynical child obsessively focused on getting what he wants for Christmas. He is ably supported by a cast of young local actors, including Landrum Middle School student Johnny Warren as Flick, Vincent Scaramuzzi as Schwartz, Harrison Davey as little brother Randy and Kaden Quiles as the notorious yellow-eyed Scut Farkus. The stage version also expands the role of classmate Esther Jane (Sophia Feagins), creating a pint-sized romantic interest for Ralphie.

Jazmin Gorsline and Robert Herrle manage to put their own personal stamp on the roles of Ralphie’s parents while still remaining true to the story the audience knows and loves. As Ralphie’s mother, Gorsline is more of an equal match for her husband, while Herrle’s “Old Man” is a more approachable father figure than the original’s feared curmudgeon.

By the time Ralphie and Randy unwrap their Christmas presents, audience members will feel like they’ve spent an enjoyable evening sharing memories over a cup of cocoa with old friends.