By H.M. Cauley
For only the second time in 25 years, Georgia Shakespeare plans a holiday show to get patrons of all ages into the spirit of the season.
Beginning Dec. 7, the troupe will stage “A Christmas Story,” a tale taken directly from the 1983 movie of the same name.
In the past, other events at the Conant Performing Arts Center on the campus of Oglethorpe University made holiday shows difficult to pull off. But this year, producing artistic director Richard Garner said the scheduling fell into place.
“We’ll be able to move our scenery in and out to make rehearsals work,” he said. “And since we can have 22 performances, it makes it workable.”
“A Christmas Story” revolves around young Ralphie and his campaign to get a Red Ryder carbine action BB gun for Christmas. Several years ago, Garner’s colleagues encouraged him to do a stage version, but he wasn’t convinced. In fact, he’d never seen the film.
“After a year of it not registering with me, someone finally bought me the DVD,” Garner said. “The next day, I came back and said, ‘We ought to do this!’ ”
A script version of the movie was easily obtained, and the concept fit with the group’s mission, said Garner.
“In the 20-something years since it came out, ‘A Christmas Story” has become a contemporary classic like Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ ” he said. “And our mission is to do classic voices, classics of the stage, not just Shakespeare.”
But Garner has no doubt that most people who come to the show will have the movie version playing in their heads.
“Because the movie is so iconic and such a period piece, we are going to stick very closely to the script,” he said. “We’ll pay homage to the 1940s world our audience is coming to see, with all the props, the costumes and locations, from the interiors to a Christmas tree lot and a school.”
The search for Ralphie led Garner and director Drew Fracher to 13-year-old Cooper Driskell of Cobb County. The cast includes six more young, local actors and Fracher’s wife, Sherman, in the role of Ralphie’s mom.
“That role is a delicate mix of being a mother with a little twinkle of devilment in her eye, and Sherman has that combination that works really well,” Garner said.
“A Christmas Story” opens Dec. 7 and runs through Dec. 26. For show times and ticket prices, call 404-264-0020 or go to www.gashakespeare.org.