Breckenridge Backstage Theatre brings holiday classic to the stage
IF YOU GO
What: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre presents “A Christmas Story”
Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge
Cost: Online: Adult $25 a ticket plus $2 processing fee; Youth (15 & under): $12 plus $2 processing fee; Yellow VIP section: Adult $29 a ticket plus $2 processing fee; Youth (15 & under): $16 plus $2 processing fee; Groups of 10+: $2 discount. Box Office/Walk Ups: Adult $27 a ticket plus $2 processing fee; Youth (15 & under): $14 plus $2 processing fee; Yellow VIP section: Adult $31 a ticket plus $2 processing fee; Youth (15 & under): $18 plus $2 processing fee; Groups of 10+: $2 discount
Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 27, at 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 25, at 6 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 26, at 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 27, at 6 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 29, at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to backstagetheatre.org
“You’ll shoot your eye out!”
Hearing this familiar phrase on TV is a sure sign the holidays are here, just as telling as the colorful lights decorating buildings or the tree lots opening on the corner. Local talent will bring this holiday classic to the stage, with the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s version of “A Christmas Story” at the Riverwalk Center. Closing out 2015, there will be performances in November and into December.
Following the story of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his desire for a Red Ryder BB gun, the Breckenridge adaptation will include fan-favorite scenes — the leg lamp, the kid’s tongue stuck to the frozen pole and how dramatic braving the winter can be, said Abbey Austin, who plays the teacher Miss Shields.
“There are a lot of similarities, which I think you have to do when you have a movie that’s that well known — people want to see what they’re familiar with,” she said. “Chris has done a really good job directing it and staying true to what it is.”
She is no stranger to Backstage Theatre productions, with recent performances in “The Jungle Book” and “Curves Ahead.” Her character in “A Christmas Story” is like a second mother figure to the kids, she said.
A TALE TOLD BY RALPH
Through a series of fantasy scenes, the audience is drawn into Ralphie’s imagination. But the play is also very naturalistic, said Lenore Giardina, who plays Mother, in that it’s about the lives of these people told through the vision of Ralph, who is remembering back in time. Everything the audience is seeing — the familiarity between a couple and a family, going through the motions of breakfast, getting the kids off to school — makes the characters very relatable and real, she said. Those scenes are intermixed with fun, melodramatic scenes from his fantasies, such as when he is defending his parents against desperados or goes blind after being soap poisoned by his mother.
“All these fun moments happen like that in the show,” Giardina said.
Young Ralphie is played by Frisco resident Foster Krueger, 13. He can be recognized for his lead role as Oliver in the Backstage’s “Oliver!” in 2013. He said he very much relates to his character in his determination to get what he wants.
“I really like Ralphie’s determination — he is determined, and he will not give up,” he said. “That reminds me of this year — when I was in Rhode Island — because I was using a fishing rod, and I went fishing and something happened, and it got super, super tangled. And I sat on the dock — getting sunburned on my neck — I sat out there for like an hour and a half trying to unwind the fish line and finally got it, and it was so pleasing. So I know how Ralphie feels when he can’t get it and when he can.”
Krueger has been in “the acting quote-on-quote business” for seven years now, starting in kindergarten after he saw his sister having fun in her roles.
“Just this summer was the very first time I’ve had a big role at the Riverwalk,” he said. “It shows my progression as an actor.”
He’s never seen “A Christmas Story” until he watched it after being cast as Ralphie but says the story lines are very similar, as is the stage set.
“My favorite scene would be when I’m beating up Farkas, but it’s not my favorite scene because it has a really long, hard bunch of curse words that aren’t actually curse words — they are just a bunch of jibberish,” he said.
Ralphie and Mother have a scene that Giardina loves — one that she gets chills just talking about. Ralphie gets into a fight after school with his friend, and his mom brings him home and puts ice on his eye. The family sits at the table and the father asks what happened today. Mother nonchalantly mentions the fight, then brushes it off with a change of subject so Ralphie doesn’t get in trouble.
“Ralphie looks at me … its very sweet and very real, and I feel like I’m in the kitchen with my own daughter,” she said.
A WELL-KNOWN STORY
The “A Christmas Story” marathon has been airing consecutive showings of the movie on television since 1997. Playing the roles of such iconic characters doesn’t make Giardina nervous.
“I’m excited for the challenge of it,” she said. “I think that live theater is better than anything — it’s better than TV, it’s better than movies. It is so much like the movie, but you need to remember it isn’t exactly like the movie, and that’s what’s so great about it.”
Austin agrees that this particular play is something special.
“This is the most well rehearsed show I’ve ever been a part of,” Austin said. “I think everything is special and all the kids have done such a great job.”
Even if you know the movie verbatim, Giardina said, the chance to see it live is a big draw.
“I would compare it to when you read a book and see a movie, how your imagination was always better,” she said.
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