Peace and harmony will go out the window when Cresson Lake Playhouse presents “The Christmas Story.”

But the audience will receive lots of comfort and joy during this holiday treat, which begins at 8 tonight at Penn Cambria High School, 401 Linden Ave., Cresson.

The show continues through Sunday and again on Nov. 25 and 26.

Curtain times are at 8 except for Sunday’s matinee at 2.

The action centers on Ralphie Parker, a young boy growing up in the 1940s, who dreams of owning a Red Rider BB gun.

Ralphie sets out to convince the world that the gun is the perfect gift. Along the way, he runs into opposition from his parents, his teacher and Santa Claus, all of whom chorus the refrain of “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Most people who have seen the movie know the story promises to be a two-fisted tribute to an all-American Christmas, said Director David Slavich of Richland Township, who has accepted the challenge of taking a popular Christmas movie and bringing it to life on the stage.

“That is one our biggest challenges because the movie and its characters are so recognizable,” Slavich said. “Everyone has a favorite moment in the movie and they expect the same thing in the play.”

Like in the movie, Ralph is the adult storyteller. But unlike the movie, adult Ralph is an actual character, not a voice-over as he recalls a memorable Christmas on Cleveland Street in Hohman, Ind. The role is portrayed by Randy Jeffreys of Johnstown.

Ralphie is played by Stephen Sloan of Ebensburg, who Slavich said bears an uncanny resemblance to Peter Billingsley, the lad who portrayed Ralphie in the 1983 movie.

Ralphie’s younger brother, Randy, is portrayed by Carley Ingold of Cresson.

“Randy, who is portrayed by a girl, is much more of a hider in the play,” Slavich said. “Under the steps, under the sink, under a table are the places we will find the youngster when the question, ‘Where’s Randy?’ is asked.”

Ralphie’s two best friends, Flick and Schwartz, are portrayed respectively by Andrew Kilpatrick of Johnstown and Trevor Buchan of Windber.

The boys are involved in the experiment of placing a wet tongue on frozen metal. In the play, that object is a cold lamppost instead of a flagpole.

“We also have the infamous leg lamp that Ralphie’s father won, complete with fishnet stocking and high-heel shoes,” Slavich said.

“There also will be other characters in the play that were not seen in the movie. It adds a little freshness to the production.”

From Goldblatt’s Department Store to the family’s exploding furnace, all the elements of the movie are included.

“I have never worked on a play with so many sound cues,” Slavich said. “From honking horns, barking dogs and a creaking furnace, they’re all there.”

Slavich said although the play did not include the scene of the family going to a Chinese restaurant after the neighbor’s dogs devour the Christmas feast, he inserted it into the production.

“Something would have been missing if we had not done ‘Deck the Halls’ and its ‘fa, ra, ra, ra, ra’ song or having duck instead of turkey,” Slavich said.

Elaine Mastalski, business director at Cresson Lake, said the play is entertainment for the entire family and a play she hopes the theater can duplicate each year.

“It’s an amazing way to start the holiday season,” Mastalski said. “We would like to make ‘The Christmas Story’ an annual event and a destination for central Pennsylvania audiences during the Christmas season.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children younger than 12. Tickets can be obtained by calling 472-4333 or at the door.



Tom Lavis can be reached at 532-5054 or tlavis@tribdem.com.

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