November 12, 2008

Children join SIUC students in ‘A Christmas Story’

by Andrea Hahn

Ryan Bushur as Ralphie
You'll shoot your eye out! -- With that Red Ryder BB Gun, Ralphie! Sixth-grader Ryan Bushur is Ralphie in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's presentation of the Jean Shepherd play, "A Christmas Story." Photo provided Download Photo Here

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A cast of local school children joins Southern Illinois University Carbondale students for “A Christmas Story” at McLeod Theater.

The play shows on Nov. 20-21 and again Dec. 5-7. All shows are at 7:30 p.m. except for Dec. 7, which is a 2 p.m. matinee.

Many are familiar with the story from the ever-popular 1983 movie starring Darren McGavin and a now-grown-up Peter Billngsley. This is the stage version (of course) and many of the favorite motifs (like the Leg Lamp) and lines (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”) are here.

For those not in the know, the story follows young Ralphie as he deals with a school bully and his own zany family and above all hopes for a Red Ryder BB gun.

This SIUC version features Carbondale students who responded to an open audition call. The cast stars sixth-grader Ryan Bushur (Robin and Tim Bushur) of Carbondale as young Ralphie. Other Carbondale school children featured are:

Alexis Jones (Sherry and Dan Jones), a third-grader, is Ralphie’s younger “brother” Randy. Her brother, Roger Jones, in eighth grade, plays Flick, the boy who freezes his tongue to the flagpole. Ryan Bobell (Jennifer and David Bobelll), eighth-grade, is Schwartz (the boy who dares Flick). Areaj Mubarak (Rosalia Furtak), a fifth-grader, plays schoolgirl Helen Weathers, and Elizabeth Schultz (Danielle and Mark Schultz), a Giant City School fourth-grader, plays Esther Jane. Seventh-grader Tristan Workman (Tamara and Edward Workman) is Scut Farkas, the bully.

SIUC students round out the cast. Jane Grote (Pittsfield) is Red Ryder-hating Mother, Jim Kress Jr. (Carmi) plays older Ralph, Ben Voelker (Waterloo) is The Old Man, otherwise known as Ralphie’s dad, and Racquel McKenzie (Evanston) is Miss Shields, Ralphie’s teacher.

Theater department faculty members are behind the scenes. Susan Patrick Benson directs. Ron Naversen designed the sets. Kathryn Wagner handled the costumes. Graduate student Christine Jacky designed the lighting.

Playgoers can get in on a raffle for the Leg Lamp and a Red Ryder BB gun. Raffle proceeds benefit the theater department’s scholarship fund.

The matinee performance on Dec. 7 also features a panel of Santa experts, ages 4-8. WSIU-TVs Jak Tichenor will interview the young experts.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $6 for students. Reserve yours ahead by calling 618/453-7589. The McLeod Theater box office is open noon-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before each performance.