The challenge of reproducing a classic movie such as “A Christmas Story” for the stage hasn’t gone unnoticed by the cast and crew of Lee’s Summit West High School’s theater department.
The thespians will premiere the stage version of the regaled film tonight at 7:30 p.m., continue at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 and host the finale at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 16. Tickets are $6 in advance and $7 at the door.
The beloved holiday tale focuses on Ralphie Parker, who wants only one thing for Christmas: A Red Ryder BB Gun. As those around him object by saying the infamous line, ‘You’ll shoot your eye out,’ Ralphie continues his quest to obtain the highly-prized gift.
Performances will also include the annual holiday bazaar featuring items for home decoration and last-minute gifts.
“My mom is obsessed with the movie, so I grew up watching this movie,” said Emmanuel Llorente, a Lee’s Summit West sophomore who is portraying Ralphie Parker. “It’s been really helpful because I like to be able to model my characters after something that has already been made. It’s easy to pick up the traits and the different things that he does in the movie and that helps me build my character.”
Ralphie’s mother is played by Madeline Campbell, a junior at West who said she has more than 30 musicals under her belt since beginning her stage career as an elementary school student. Ralphie’s father, The Old Man, is played by Conor Tierney and the adult Ralphie part belongs to Abram Shay-Zapien.
“I have seen the movie so much – at Christmas we watch it on rerun – so I kind of prepared my character by watching the movie,” Campbell said. “The mom is kind of this quirky, kind of out there character who is kind of tired by all of this Christmas stuff that is happening. But she kind of goes on and carries on, so I just try to be that kind of character that’s worn out and energetic at the same time.”
West theater department director Brad Rackers said the cast of 30 – full crew is close to 50 – understands the importance of bringing “A Christmas Story” to the stage.
“We wanted to celebrate the holidays and do something different,” Rackers said. “It’s a good way to give back to the community (and) have people come out and enjoy the season. It’s really 30 really talented young people who are creating something that people kind of love and use as part of their holiday already.
“It’s obviously a show people have expectations for and they want certain things from it and that has been an interesting adventure for us. But, it’s a fun challenge because we get to bring something to life that people are already excited about seeing. Also for the kids, it’s something that they grew up with and they’ve seen as well, so it’s kind of cool to see themselves doing it.”
Added Llorente: “I’m honored that Mr. Rackers chose me to play Ralphie. I’m only a sophomore so it’s kind of a privilege to be able to play a lead character. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s hard memorizing the lines and everything, but to have the final product be something amazing just makes me want to work so much harder. Theater is my passion and what drives me to do everything. It’s been a really fun experience getting to work with this amazing cast and everybody has been really nice.”