by Beki Pineda

A CHRISTMAS STORY – Written by Philip Grecian; Directed by Rory Pierce. Produced by Miners Alley Playhouse (1224 Washington, Golden) through December 23. Tickets available at 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

What’s your favorite Christmas movie? HOME ALONE? WHITE CHRISTMAS? LOVE ACTUALLY? DIE HARD? A lot of people would answer that it’s CHRISTMAS STORY with good reason. It’s a feel-good movie that kids and adults can enjoy together, light-hearted but exploiting the terrors of childhood and making the adults look as foolish as the kids. Lots of laughs for families to share. After the 1983 movie, two stage versions were added, one a musical, the other a comedy. The Miners Alley version is sans music, but contains all the fun of the original movie.

We can all remember the trouble that little Ralphie gets himself into in his quest for a Genuine Red Ryder Carbine 200-shot Range model Air Rifle with a compass and a sun dial right in the stock with which his mother, his teacher and even Santa Claus tells him “you’ll shoot your eye out.” The play version condenses all of Ralphie’s memories about this very special time leading up to this very special Christmas and sets them in the living/dining room of Ralphie’s home and an area on stage that becomes the front yard of their house, the school yard, classrooms and the other spaces needed to make those memories live. We have the scene where  Schwartz gets his tongue stuck to a cold flag pole on a double dog dare, the “major award” won by the Old Man (Ralphie’s father), the slide outside the Santa Claus chair at Higbee’s Department Store, the big fight between Ralphie and the grade school bully Scut, the fearful dogs that lived next door, and on and on. All the things that make you laugh and bring nostalgia to your heart when you remember the movie and your own home Christmases.

A cast of talented kids and adults alike bring the incidents to life. Tim Fishbaugh, a seasoned actor, plays the grown up Ralphie looking back in this memory play and jumps into the scene occasionally to play remembered characters from his past. His blend of humor at his own remembrances and gentle nostalgia creates the mood for the show and keeps the audience engaged in what’s going to happen next. The Old Man is given frenetic life by Damon Guerrasio who just keeps getting better and better. He is full of high energy and enthusiasm for fighting with the furnace and dancing with his major award. The relationship he and Shauna Earp-Ballinger have as the Mother is fun to watch. It’s full of affection, loyalty, disdain, understanding and embarrassment. Shauna knows her man and loves him anyway. Colleen Lee plays all the other female characters including the infamous Miss Shields, the teacher. The cast is rounded out by a talented septet of charmers. The performance I saw included Nico Lish in the lead role of Ralphie, Pax Ballinger as Flick, Jackson Nupp as Schwartz, Owen Roberts as the villain Farkus, Josephine Hinton as Helen, Cassidy Jears as Randi, and Anna Bartholomew as Esther Jane, Ralphie’s first crush. They provided suitable foils for each other and for the unknowing adults.

A walk down memory lane lovingly guided by Director Rory Pierce. Playing until December 23 means you still have two weeks to jump into this memory pool.

A WOW factor of 8.5!!

 

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