For Sarnia’s Ron Pask, A Christmas Story, The Musical, is a rare opportunity to direct a large number of children and animals on stage.
“Wasn’t it W.C. Fields who said never work with children or animals? You never know what they will do,” he says, laughing.
“We’ve got 20 kids and two dogs in this cast. Luckily they’re a good bunch and a lot of them are pretty serious about their theatre.”
Theatre Sarnia’s Christmas show is the first musical that Pask, an Imperial Oil retiree, has directed despite more than 20 years in community theatre and a solid list of dramas and comedies under his belt.
He’s got lots of theatrical experience but a musical is a whole new ball game, Pask said.
“There’s a huge difference. This is a big challenge for me because I don’t have an ear for harmonies and I have two left feet.”
But with the assistance of musical director Frank Brennan and choreographers Sarah Matuzic and Bethany Tiegs, Pask said the show is coming together well.
“It’s a feel-good play all about Christmas. We talked about doing the non-musical version but it wasn’t available.”
A Christmas Story, the Musical is based on the 1983 movie that became a seasonal classic. It’s on many must-see lists at Christmas time, alongside It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf.
The story is set in the 1940s when nine-year-old Ralphie, played by 14-year-old Ben Adair, wants nothing more for Christmas than a Red Ryder BB gun. There’s a little drama and a little humour based on the writing of author Jean Shepherd.
The musical was written by Joseph Robinette with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
“The show has a lot of really catchy tunes that you’ll walk out of the theatre humming,” said Pask.
Theatre Sarnia doesn’t always do a production in December, especially one running until Dec. 23. Having it so close to Christmas might have been a deterrent to the number willing to audition, Pask thought.
But it seems a lot of people like to get involved in Christmas productions. Between 65 and 70 tried out for parts in June. Forty were successful, half of them under age 16.
It appears theatre-goers are also willing to make time for a Christmas production, despite the busy holiday season. Ticket sales are strong.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: A Christmas Story, The Musical
WHEN: Dec. 15 – 23 at 7:30 p.m. except for Dec. 17 and 23 when there’s a 2 p.m. matinee.
WHERE: Imperial Theatre on 168 Christina St. N.
TICKETS: Range from $20 for youth to $40 for adults. Call 519-344-SHOW (7469) or visit www.Imperialtheatre.net. Also available at the box office.