A Christmas Story sings out at Four County Players

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See A Christmas Story: The Musical, with Matty Ward as Ralphie, at Four County Players through December 17. Publicity photo See A Christmas Story: The Musical, with Matty Ward as Ralphie, at Four County Players through December 17. Publicity photo

Whether you fell in love with the leg lamp, the pink bunny suit or the double-dog-dare to lick a frozen flagpole, you can’t help but wait in excited anticipation for A Christmas Story to hit the holiday airwaves.

The story of Ralphie, an eager schoolboy on a desperate quest to get the most magical Christmas gift of all, hit the big screen in 1983 as a motion picture written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark.

Nearly 30 years later, the cult classic has been reimagined for the stage. A Christmas Story: The Musical features music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose recent work includes Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land. And now that the number of cool days and colorful tree leaves have caught up with PSL promos, Four County Players is bringing the holiday season to Charlottesville.

Directed and choreographed by Geri Carlson Sauls, the play echoes the story you know and love (with a few theatrical twists, of course) through song and dance. In advance of the show, C-VILLE Weekly caught up with Ralphie himself.

C-VILLE: Hi, Ralphie.

Ralphie: Hi.

It’s good to see you outside the usual… Where I’m used to seeing you. So how old are you?

I am 9 years old.

What is your favorite subject in school?

My favorite subject in school is writing, because I get to write about my BB gun that I really want. It’s a Red Ryder BB gun.

Why do you want it?

Because I can keep my homestead free of villains, and I can show Black Bart who’s boss.

Well, good for you. That’s very brave. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not in school?

I love hanging out with my friends. Flick and Schwartz are my best buds, and we love to hang out with each other and we always have a good time. We like to play tag and we sometimes dream about what we’re going to get for Christmas, and we talk about if we could be heroes, what would we do?

What do you think you will be when you grow up?

I think that I would be a fireman, because I could protect people and use awesome tools, and I could just be such a great hero.

What else should I know about you?

Sometimes in school, when school’s getting a little boring, I like to daydream, and sometimes that gets me in trouble. But I am still a great student.

One time, we were supposed to be writing our Christmas themes, and I was writing about my BB gun, and I was off in a daydream, and then Miss Shields, my teacher, was yelling at me and that was not good.

But you’re still a good student?

Yes.

And you think you’re a good enough student that you’ll get whatever you want for Christmas?

Yes, I think I will.

Awesome. Alright, well. Thanks, Ralphie.

Yes, thank you.


Mad props

The leg lamp arrives in A Christmas Story when Ralphie’s old man wins a major award in a contest. A battle over keeping it ensues between his parents, and the wacky lamp has become an iconic movie prop inspiring reproduction frenzies, Halloween costumes and civic traditions—Cleveland incorporated it into the city’s holiday decor on its Central Tower, and Northport, Long Island, gathers annually for the lighting of the lamp by its mayor. Author Jean Shepherd was inspired by a Nehi soda advertisement, and included the leg lamp in a series of short stories, originally published in Playboy Magazine, that went on to form the script for 1983’s A Christmas Story.

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