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Cleveland Play House takes you back to a gentler time with “A Christmas Story”

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A Christmas Carol

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Pull out your favorite fluffy Christmas sweater and put it on. Make yourself a cup of hot cocoa. Put some soothing Christmas carols on the stero. Relax and have a seat in your favorite easy chair. This is pretty much how you will feel after watching Cleveland Play Houses’ “A Christmas Story” now playing at the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.

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The play is based on the movie of the same name that was based on a series of short stories written by Jean Shepherd that appeared in his book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”. It is the well known story of Ralphie and his quest for the ultimate kid Christmas gift…an official Red Ryder 200-shot, Carbine Action, Range Model Air Rifle with a compass and this thing that tells time embedded in the stock. Along the way we meet his pals, his kid brother, his parents and a whole host of characters that make up the collective memory of his childhood.

What makes this work such a delight is that all the elements of it work on so many levels. There is the narrator (adult Ralphie) who guides us through the entire story line from start to finish giving emphasis on what he feels are the more important aspects of his growing up. At times he matches young Ralphie in pose and demeanor and is a real hoot to watch. He also stands in for an array of minor characters during the play. There is the stage with its double revolving platforms (one the house sits on and alternates between front of the house to interior) and a “outside ring” that surrounds the house giving more energy to those moving around the house as well as bringing in the next set of scenery into view.

All of the situations from the movie “A Christmas Story” are there…the exploding furnace, the bunny suit, the Bumpas’ hounds, the leg lamp and of course “You’ll Shoot You Eye Out!” There is even a new twist as Ralphie has a love interest (as much of a love interest as a nine year old boy growing up in Indiana will have) and a new character “the smartest girl in the school and possibly the world” has been added.

In short it is a delightful evening that will have you absentmindedly humming Christmas carols as you depart the theater. For those of us familiar with the movie (read: know by heart every line) it is a great way to see a readapting of a holiday favorite that gives us a different look.

As for the actors, they are terrific. There are a number of children involved in this production and as risky as that is, they perform with professional aplomb. Even after thirty years of seeing the movie you will find yourself laughing all over again. That is a tribute to the quality of those on stage. One minor complaint that I had and this is true of most shows involving children. They come out early a little too revved up and they seem to rush their dialog but they soon settle down to a comfortable pace that the show requires.

Prude Alert: Bring everyone! There is nothing offensive at all to this show. It is a collection of happy memories of Christmas. Yes, there is one fight scene where Ralphie beats the snot out of the neighborhood bully, but hey, the kid deserved it.

Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): Cleveland Play House’s “A Christmas Story” now playing at the Allen Theatre is everything the movie is and more. It is an ingenious live stage production that captures all the wonder, magic and laughs of the original. It’s as Christmassy as your favorite ugly sweater and a mug of hot cocoa.

The Cast

Ralph, Jeff Talbott*; Flick, Cole Emerine; Schwartz, Lee Greene; Mother, Maggie Lacey*; Ralphie, Mathew Taylor; The Old Man, Michael Heintzman*; Randy, Skipper Rankin; Scut Farkas, John Cugel; Helen, Cameron Danielle Nelson; Miss Shields, Laura Perrotta* and Esther Jane, Carisa Tanner

The Crew

Directed by John McCluggage; Scenic Designer, Robert Mark Morgan; Costume Designer, David Kay Mickelsen; Lighting Designer, Michael Boll; Sound Designer, James C. Swonger; Stage Manager, Jennifer Matheson Collins* and Assistant Stage Manager, Tom Humes*

*Indicates members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of professional actors and state managers in the United States.

Special Events

Season Extra
Festival of Trees Through December 30, 2013
Free and open to the public!
Allen Theatre lobby

The Festival of Trees returns with its debut in our new downtown home! Family activities, behind-the-scenes access, and a lot of holiday cheer make this event a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Festival of Trees Schedule

Open for public viewing through Dec. 30th.

Weekdays: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturdays: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sundays: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Special hours on:

Dec. 23rd: Noon – 9 p.m.
Dec. 24th: Noon – 5 p.m.
Dec. 26th – 30th: Noon – 9:00 p.m.

The display will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

TalkBack
A Christmas Story
December 08, 2013
4:30pm - 5:00pm

TalkBack
A Christmas Story
December 15, 2013
4:30pm - 5:00pm

With gratitude to Presenting Sponsor University Hospitals, CPH is honored to donate $5 of every full-priced ticket purchased through November 29th to the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Ticket Information

A Christmas Story will take place Nov. 29 – Dec. 22, 2013 in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. Tickets range in price from $45-$72 each. Students under the age of 24 with a valid ID will be offered a special $25 ticket price. Tickets are also just $25 for anyone under age 35, sponsored by Scene Magazine. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com. Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, Cleveland Play House has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. It has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,300 CPH productions. Cleveland Play House looks toward its centennial while performing in three state-of-the art venues at PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland.

The Ohio Arts Council helped fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. We also thank the residents of Cuyahoga County for supporting Cleveland Play House through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

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