A Christmas Story is a Christmas classic, and its place in the canon of great Christmas films has been secured. Fans of the film will have a chance to see it on the stage, with SaskExpress presenting A Christmas Story: The Musical, a retelling of the story with song and dance.
Two performers in the production spoke to Yorkton This Week about the upcoming show. Mark Claxton, who was once a reporter with Yorkton This Week, takes the role of the narrator, while young actor Dan Luzar takes the lead role of Ralphie.
Tackling a well known story brings some pressure, Claxton admits, but doing it as a musical changes things as well.
“Because it’s not the movie but does something different, it adds to the movie. There’s a confidence that people will get all of the things they’re expecting to get if they’re fans of the movie, but also extra jokes, some great music and some extra gifts.”
Claxton said that doing it as a musical enhances what people love about the original, heightening the emotions.
“We’ve got a lot of great energy and humour, and some tremendous, catchy up-tempo musical numbers that, I think, really ramp up the humour and the poignancy of the movie, all of the things people loved about the movie, I think the musical does a great job of bringing that out.”
For Luzon, his favorite part is the message about family, and he likes being in a story about a supportive family.
“You know that they support you, even if you get in a fight, your mom and dad will support. When you shoot your eye out, your mom will be there.”
Family is also what Claxton loves about the role, not only from the story, but this specific production as well. Claxton will share the stage with his eleven year old son. He said that having family on stage in a family story is a special experience.
“Families today are a lot different in many ways from what they were in the 1940s in this story. But, some things are the same too. Kids having to navigate their parents and parents navigating their kids, that special togetherness that hopefully many of us have memories of.”
As a young actor, a lot of the story was new for Luzon.
“You can experience [what] they experienced in the 1940s. You can learn a lot, and lots of things have changed, like soap in your mouth and getting beat up... A lot of stuff has changed.”
The Anne Portnuff Theatre is an important one for Claxton, as he said it was the place where he rediscovered his love for theatre.
“I think it has probably been 15 years since I was on that stage, and it has been such an incredibly important, pivotal period in my life, my years in Yorkton, rediscovering my love of theatre and acting. It really set me on an important path. So to be able to be back in that community and be able to share that with my son, Logan, feels like a pretty magical, full-circle homecoming.”
Luzar is also formerly from Yorkton, and he describes it as amazing to be back in town.
“I have family and friends there, and they already have tickets, so they’re coming to watch and support all of us.”
The full cast is:
Mark Claxton as Jean Sheperd who is the Narrator, Dan Luzar as Ralphie, Scott Perrie as the Old Man (Ralphie’s dad), Miranda Sheepwash as the Mom, Dylan Moore as little brother, Randy, Ben Redant as Santa Claus, Matthew Scherman as Scut Farkus, Jennelle Hubick as Miss Shields, Logan Claxton as Schwartz, Toren Senyonga as Flick, Harlow Ladoudakis as Grover Dale, Elizabeth Thomas as Esther Jane, Emma McNaughton as Mary Beth along with performers Jenna Brown, Elaina Culbert, Jaida Hoa, Kelsey Howatt, Aren Okemaysim and John-Mark Smith as various characters in the ensemble.
SaskExpress will present A Christmas Story: The Musical at the Anne Portnuff Theatre on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at Saddles and Steel and Fuzztone Music, as well as saskexpress.com.