REVIEW: Enjoy a DysFUNctional Evening with the Avon Players’ ‘A Christmas Story’

‘Tis the season for holiday favorites. Many are familiar with, and love the movie A Christmas Story. But did you know when the film was released in 1983, it didn’t make much of a splash? However, over the years, gathering the family around the television to cheer on Ralphie as he schemes and dreams for a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and a sundial, has become as highly anticipated as a visit from Santa Claus. This weekend, Avon Players joined the tradition with their production of A Christmas Story.

From left to right: Kaden Selvidge as “Ralphie,” Jack Meadows as “Randy,” a Joy Oetjens as “Mother,” and Chris Stepnitz as “The Old Man.” Photo Credit: Bryan Clifford.

While all the elements you love from the movie are still represented, the most noticeable difference is the presence of a physical narrator in the form of an adult Ralph. Played endearingly by Kevin Curtis, having a person spouting off anecdotes instead of a voice over adds a comedic and more human element to the story. As for the rest of the main cast they are in fine form with Joy Oetjens playing the madcap mom with a penchant for whipping up meatballs and red cabbage (also, her headful of curls deserves their own billing). Chris Stepnitz deftly conveys the curmudgeonly mannerisms that makes The Old Man a hoot to watch, and while Randy (Jack Meadows) doesn’t have much in the way of dialogue, his presence and timing give the play another layer of fun. Of course, the play wouldn’t be anything without the plucky nine-year-old Ralphie played by the precocious Kaden Selvidge. It’s hard tackling a role that is known by so many, but Kaden gives it his own spin. This results in the audience rooting for him to get his gun and live out all the great adventures he’s dreaming of, while at the same time feeling sympathy for the fact he’s surrounded by such a cluesless and dysfunctional family. Just a quick note so there’s no confusion: this is not the musical version of the play. And honestly, I’m glad Avon Players chose not to go that route. There’s just some things that are so ingrained in our pop culture, that the less you mess with them, the better. A Christmas Story is quirky, nostalgic, and a delightful respite from the hurriedness that dominates the holiday season. Do yourself a favor and go see it. I triple dog dare ya!

Tickets for all shows are $18. Call 248-608-9077 for tickets or order online at www.AvonPlayers.org. Group rates are available by calling the box office. “Like” Avon Players Theatre on Facebook for special offers on tickets. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. All seats are reserved. Check out one of these remaining performances:

  • Friday, Dec. 1          8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 2      3:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 2      8:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 3        2:00 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 8          8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 9      3:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 9      8:00 p.m.
About Sarah Hovis

Word manipulator, arts appreciator, sports spectator, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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