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Cleveland Play House’s ‘A Christmas Story’ is a joyful holiday celebration

Anyone who live in Cleveland, Ohio is fully aware of the city’s link to the wildly popular 1983 movie “A Christmas Story.” Although set in Hohman, Indiana a large portion of the movie was filmed right here in Northeast, Ohio. The house used in the movie is now a museum and gift shop.

It is a nostalgic look at post World War II America as the country returned to a time of normalcy. Thus it was with great joy that Cleveland Play House began producing the stage version of this holiday classic in 2008. This year’s production is directed by the incomparable John McCluggage.

More than anything else in the whole wide world, Little Ralphie Parker desires a BB gun but not just an ordinary BB gun. Ralphie has set his sights on the “Official Red Ryder, Carbine Action, 200-Shot, Rrange Model Air Rifle, with a compass and this thing that tells time built right into the stock.”

With Christmas rapidly approaching Ralphie has begun a crusade to acquire this holy grail of toys. He has initiated a massive faux mailing campaign, written an essay for class, and even enlisted the aid of Santa himself. But no matter how hard he tries he is still thwarted by that fateful phrase, “You’ll shoot you eye out.”

Along the way, Ralphie has to deal with school, friends (including a possible girl fiend), family (including a distant aunt who has trouble remembering his gender) and Skut Farkas the neighborhood bully. As the clock ticks down to Christmas morning it looks as if Ralphie may have to be content with his share of “ordinary” toys as dreams of his very own Red Rider BB gun seem to be melting away.

This production of “A Christmas Story” is definitely a notch above. The cast is highly animated bringing a new energy to the show. Jeff Talbott as adult Ralph does a fine job weaving the tale of his childhood. Also notable is Christopher Gerson as The Old Man who is much more lively in the role then in years past. Ezra Bernstein does a great Ralphie especially when mimicking his older self. Anjanette Hall as Mrs. Parker brings exceptional warmth to the role. The rest of the supporting cast: Chase Oberhaus as Flick, Demetrius Yarbrough, Jr. as Schwartz, Luke Stauffer as Randy, Theo Dengler as Skut Farkas, Kaylani Cika as Helen, Laura Perrotta as Miss Shields and Corlyn Staufer as Esther Jane are all notable in their roles.

Just as the original movie is viewed time and time again, especially during the holidays so too does the theater production deserve another viewing.

There is no greater gift during this holiday time than to share the magic of theater with the entire family. Although a familiar story this production is a wonderful way to share time together and relax during this sometimes hectic season. Bring the entire family for an evening of warmth and delight.

A Christmas Story runs through December 23, 2019 in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square. For tickets and information visit, call (216) 241-6000 or visit the Playhouse Square Box Office located in the outer lobby of the KeyBank State Theatre.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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