'A Christmas Story' comes to life at CTC

Peter Brosius has a confession to make about A Christmas Story.

"I did not grow up with the film, nor in fact had I ever seen it," says the artistic director of the Children's Theatre Company. Still, other company members asked him again and again to take a look at Jean Shepherd's legendary childhood reminiscence. A reading was held, but nothing came of it.

"Then a year or so ago, I asked for another reading and maybe it was the casting, or the reading, or some alchemical force, but the play just knocked me out with its truth, its humor, and its terrific heart. I knew we had to do it," Brosius says.


Bringing the story of Ralphie, his friends, and enemies in the eternally frozen, Depression-era Indiana to the Children's Theatre stage involved plenty of research, from reading the other works by Shepherd to listening to the music of the late 1930s. The creators "just immersed ourselves in the world that he had created and what made his voice so unique," Brosius says.

Leading the cast is Bradley Greenwald, who takes on the role of the adult narrator who talks us through young Ralphie's misadventures. He's joined by CTC veterans Jerry Drake and Autumn Ness as the Old Man and Mom. "Jerry gets to do the most creative and hilarious faux swearing any stage has seen," Brosius says.


The younger actors, led by Taylor Leighton as Ralphie, have also thrown themselves into the production. "The cast of young people have dug into the research, reading his books, and have become obsessed with A Christmas Story lore and trivia. They have even begun wearing their own A Christmas Story t-shirts to rehearsal. I have information that some have already ordered their own leg lamps," Brosius says.

Still, why pay to come out to the Children's Theatre when TBS will have the movie on constant repeat at Christmas?

"We have found that there is something powerful and truly emotional about seeing a piece that you know from other media performed live on stage with actors just a few feet away from you," Brosius says.

A Christmas Story opens this Friday and runs through December 31 at the Children's Theatre Company.