The Nashville Repertory Theatre’s adaptation of A Christmas Story has become a Nashville Holiday tradition. The same actors have played the main roles since the production began seven years ago. This year, to keep things fresh, an all new cast will be taking on the roles of Ralphie, Ralphie’s mother, Flick, Scut and more. As the Rep’s release assures us, “Audience members who have seen past productions will enjoy the same hilarious show but with a new charm coming from a different group of talented, local actors.”
Those actors are some of Nashville’s finest: Megan Murphy Chambers (Mother), Antonio P. Nappo (Scut), Curtis Reed (Randy), Mikey Rosenbaum (Flick), Patrick Waller (Schwatrz), Derek Whittaker (Ralphie), and Bobby Wyckoff (Old Man).
Where are the Children?
The 1983 film, written by Jean Shepherd, Bob Clark and Leigh Brown, focuses on Ralphie Parker and his unique family at Christmas time. All Ralphie wants is a Red Ryder B.B. gun, but his parents, and pretty much everyone else, constantly remind him that “you’ll shoot your eye out.” During this period of longing, hilarity ensues. There’s an iconic — and major — leg lamp “award,” a tongue stuck to a frozen pole, a turkey-thieving dog, pink bunny pajamas and enough winter layers to make a child immobile. Directed by Bob Clark and cast by Jane Feinberg, Mike Fenton and Marci Liroff, the film includes both adult and child actors.
The Rep’s production, however, adapted by Phillip Grecian, has always featured adults playing all the roles. We’re told this sometimes catches new audiences off guard. So we thought we’d pose the question to Rep artistic director, René D. Copeland. Why all adults?
“Well, this play in particular comes with a certain kind of baggage,” said Copeland. “It is based on a movie that EVERYONE knows and loves, including me, but as a theatre artist, I was pretty sure I wasn’t interested in trying to replicate a pale imitation of the movie on stage. I mean, just watch the movie. So I began to think about how we could approach the play in a way that only live theatre could do, which led me to try to think of it in terms of theatrical rather than movie-realistic. I asked myself, what’s a cool way to tell this story in a uniquely theatrical way, that takes advantage of and exploits the live actor/audience connection.”
“I wasn’t trying to avoid child actors so much as trying to shake up expectations and free up audiences from movie comparisons enough that they could get drawn into the story on its own terms as a theatre experience,” adds Copeland. “So in deciding to cast a small ensemble of excellent actors to play all the roles — adults, kids, dogs, flagpoles — I was just using a storytelling technique that’s as old as theatre to make theatre the driving force of our production.”
A Christmas Story runs through December 20 at TPAC’s Johnson Theater, and is sure to delight. Tickets start at $45 for regular run and are available now online at nashvillerep.org or by calling the TPAC Box Office at 615-782-4040.
Bring hats, gloves and scarves!
It’s been a mild winter so far, but don’t forget your hats and gloves when you attend the show. The Rep is holding a winter clothes drive to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville. Audience members are asked to bring new outdoor gear (hats, mittens, scarfs) when they attend A Christmas Story. Items will be collected in the Johnson Theater lobby.
A Christmas Story Designers are Gary Hoff (Scenic Designer), Trish Clark (Costume Designer), and Michael Barnett (Lighting Designer). Technical Director is Tyler Axt.