Talkin' Broadway Regional News & Reviews: Cleveland - "A Christmas Story" - 12/19/14
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Regional Reviews by David Ritchey

A Christmas Story
Cleveland Play House

Madeleine Maby, Jake Spencer, Christopher Gerson and Skipper Rankin
Don't deny it—you want something special for Christmas. Or you wanted something for Christmas when you were a child. Did you get it? That's a major plot line in A Christmas Story, which is now playing in the Allen Theatre for Cleveland Play House. Ralphie desperately wants a BB gun. He plots various ways to let his parents know exactly which BB gun he wants. His mother is opposed. As part of her Christmas litany, she repeats, "You'll shoot your eye out."

This is the story of Ralphie (Skipper Rankin) and his desperate desire for a BB gun. The stage script by Philip Grecian is based on the motion picture A Christmas Story, written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark, and on the book, "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" by Jean Shepherd.

The story is narrated by Ralph (Jeff Talbott); this is Ralphie all grown up and looking back at his childhood in (fictional) Hohman, Indiana.

John McCluggage (director) helps his cast create a warm, love-filled Christmas season. McCluggage told me he especially enjoyed working with the children in the cast. And McCluggage has done exceptionally good job with the young actors. In their performance they seem as seasoned as their adult castmates.

I was especially pleased with the work of Ian Stewart, who plays Scut Farkas, the bully. I've seen Stewart play the Artful Dodger in Oliver! and found him to be an exceptional child actor. Unfortunately, a couple of other children's roles are filled by performers who garble their lines.

Jeff Talbott leads the cast as he plays some of the scenes, and other scenes he watches with amusement. Talbott and Rankin seem perfectly matched as the same character at different ages. Talbott's Ralph is exactly what I would image Ralphie would grow up to be.

Mother (Madeleine Maby) and The Old Man (Christopher Gerson) make being a parent and watching over your family as good a career as anyone might want.

The script is episodic with Ralphie's dream of owning a BB gun the over-arching plot line. One sub-plot deals with The Old Man winning a contest. As the story unfolds, he receives the prize, a lamp in the shape of a woman's leg in fish-net hose and a high-heel shoe. He loves his lamp and places it in the front window for all the neighbors to see. Mother is not amused and wants to send the lamp to the attic.

In addition, Ralphie has to avoid and then confront the school bully, Scut Farkas (Ian Stewart). He deals with his teacher Miss Shields (Laura Perrotta), homework, and the possibility that Esther Jane (Giovanna A. Layne) wants to be his girl friend. (Girls! Ugh!)

This production of A Christmas Story is satisfying. The story has the warmth we need in these dark days of winter. The director, cast and technical staff offer the audience a wonderful Christmas present. In order to unwrap this present, call 216-795-7000 and reserve your tickets.

[The house that was used for the setting for the movie, A Christmas Story, is in Cleveland. That house has become a tourist attraction and includes a museum and a little shop where the leg lamps are sold. Maybe, if you're good, Santa will bring you a leg lamp—that is what you want for Christmas.]

A Christmas Story, through December 21, 2014, at the Allen Theatre for Cleveland Play House. For tickets and other information, call 216-795-7000 or visit

A Christmas Story
By Philip Grecian
based on the motion picture written by Jean shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark
Ralph: Jeff Talbott
Flick: Ethan Montoya
Schwartz: Colin Myers
Esther Jane: Giovanna A. Layne
Helen: Yumi Ndhlovu
Mother: Madeleine Maby
Ralphie: Skipper Rankin
The Old Man: Christopher Gerson
Randy: Jake Spencer
Scut Farkas: Ian Stewart
Miss Shields: Laura Perrotta
Director: John McCluggage

Photo: Roger Mastroianni

- David Ritchey

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