DeKALB – Ralphie, the Old Man, the infamous leg lamp and the long-desired Red Ryder BB gun and all its accompaniments will make their stage debut Thursday in Stage Coach Players’ holiday season production of “A Christmas Story.”
The DeKalb theater group’s December production, directed by Stewart Ogilvie, will bring a little bit of “cross media” to the classic 1940s Christmas comedy tale that follows schoolboy Ralphie Parker and his quest to get the Christmas gift of his dreams.
Ogilvie said he contacted an old friend and coworker, Bill Daer – from his days working as a producer at a TV station affiliated with the American Broadcasting Company – to produce the cross media component.
“He has his own video production company [Straw Man Productions], so all the stuff with the bad guys and climbing over the fence and trying to hide behind the swing sets and all that, and Ralphie shooting them out the window; we did all that on video,” Ogilvie said. “And it’s going to be a part of the set while Ralphie’s at the window shooting. They’ll be able to see what’s going on outside right next to him.”
The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Shows to follow will also be 7:30 p.m. on Dec. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and more 7:30 p.m. showings Dec. 15, 16 and 17, ending with a 2 p.m. Dec. 18 matinee.
For tickets, visit www.stagecoachplayers.com/buy-tickets or stop by the theater box office at 126 S. Fifth St. in DeKalb. Theatergoers are asked to call the box office ahead of time at 815-758-1940 to ensure staff will be there to receive them during hours.
Ogilvie is using the cross media to illustrate a scene where the protagonist, Ralphie Parker – played by Oscar Boies – daydreams about using a Red Ryder BB gun to protect his family from criminals – at least that’s how it happens in the 1983 film directed by Bob Clark.
Some things that happen off screen in the film may happen before the eyes of the audience in the local production.
“I’m personally thrilled to break the leg lamp and throw a little fit over that,” Lori Brubaker, who plays Ralphie’s mom, said before a rehearsal Dec. 1. “Yes, it’s going to be very exciting.”
Brubaker, who started performing with Stage Coach Players in 2019 with “It’s a Wonderful Life,” said working with the community theater group has “been really wonderful” for her.
“Everybody starts to become like a good family and this is like a nice respite,” she said. “We all take care of each other here, and we’re pretty well known in the community, which is pretty nice,” Brubaker said. “I really enjoy it here. It’s kind of my happy place.”
Scott Mueller, who plays opposite Brubaker, as Ralphie’s curmudgeonly old man, said Brubaker’s character is “the underrated hero of the show.”
It’s Mueller’s first time performing with Stage Coach.
“It has been a great opportunity and little known fact I only ended up auditioning for the show because my own daughter is in the show as well,” Mueller said. “She asked me to audition with her and I just happened to get cast as the old man.”
“This is just fun,” Carlson said. “It’s just for fun. It’s to give people a chance to laugh. There’s not a lot of substance here. It’s just an opportunity to let loose.”
Carlson moved from the state of Oregon to DeKalb County to be closer to family a year and a half ago.
“For me, being new to town, it’s a great chance to get to know some other actors and have fun with them,” Carlson said.
Aside from the Red Ryder BB gun and the scandalous breaking of the infamous leg lamp, audiences can expect to see other classic “A Christmas Story” bits, such as when Ralphie’s school friend, Flick, gets his tongue stuck to a frozen pole. Ogilvie said he himself learned that lesson – that tongues and frozen metal don’t mix – the hard way as a kid.
“I had two older sisters and an aluminum screen door when I was growing up,” Ogilvie said. “I also learned the hard way that you shouldn’t pull your tongue off. You should use warm water and pour it on it.”