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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


A Christmas Story

Also see John's review of Handel's Messiah

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre presents A Christmas Story by Philip Grecian. Grecian's two-act play is based on the 1983 Turner Entertainment Co. motion picture of the same name, written by Jean Sheppard, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark, and the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Sheppard.

This classic holiday tale is true to the original film which for many years has amused and warmed so many hearts. Set in the 1940s, it is the story of a middle-class Indiana family at Christmas time. Young Ralphie is on a quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas presents: "a genuine Red Ryder 220-Shot Carbine Action Air Rifle with a compass and this thing that tells time built right into the stock." Those who have seen the movie are forever reminded of scenes such as Ralphie's father winning a lamp that looks like a woman's leg clad in fish-net hose, Ralphie being forced to model the atrocious pink bunny pajamas sent by his aunt, Ralphie climbing back up the slide in the department store to beseech Santa for the treasured rifle, and of course the little boy with his tongue frozen to the school flag pole.

All of the fondly recalled elements of the film are in the stage version as well. The only real difference is that the adult Ralph narrates via voice-over in the film, and the stage version has the adult Ralph narrating on stage. The transitions from narrative to flashback are smoothly written, so the adult Ralph is never out of place. In this production, the adult Ralph carries a book with him as he tells the story, and this adds some unwanted emotional distance. After all, it is not just any story he is narrating, but his story. The audience should be as charmed by him as by the story, and a narrator holding a book is not as emotionally available as one without one from an audience prospective.

The Maltz has well-executed set and lighting design for their production of A Christmas Story. The sound system needed to have the volume up about 20% on the night attended as some of the children were not loud enough. A young Sean Gilbert as Ralphie has admirably mature acting skills, and Wayne LeGette as mature Ralph has a speaking voice that is easy to listen to. The strongest performance in the production is that of Gordon McConnell as "The Old Man." He is remarkably reminiscent of the part as played in the film, while finding additional comic freshness of his own as Ralphie's father. It is enjoyable to see a piece that features children in a way that is not overly presentational, and the Maltz tops it off with a touch of indoor snow as the story comes to an end.

A Christmas Story appeared from December 19, 2006 through December 30, 2006 at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. The theatre is located at 1001 Indiantown Rd and A1A in Jupiter, FL. Show times are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 PM, Saturday 8 PM, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinee at 2 PM. Tickets can be purchased at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre Box Office, on line at www.jupitertheatre.org, or by phone at 561/575-3332 or 800/445-16 66. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a 550-seat, nonprofit community-based Equity regional theatre belonging to the League of Resident Theatres.

Cast
Ralph: Wayne LeGette*
Mother: Kaitlin O'Neal*
Randy: Sidney O'Gorman
Schwartz: Michael Risco
Flick: Jacob Stamm
Esther Jane: Gabrielle Craft
Helen: Brianna Scully*
Ralphie: Sean Gilbert*
The Old Man: Gordon McConnell*
Farkus: CJ Bogue
Miss Shields: Blair Sams*

Crew
Director: BT McNicholl
Scenic Design: John Coyne
Lighting Design: Martin E. Vreeland
Sound Design: Fitz Patton
Costume Design: Gail Baldoni
Production Stage Manager: Julie Richardson*

* Designates member of Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage managers in the United States.


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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