By Liz Appling
The Waco Civic Theatre is back today, bringing the holiday season into full swing with a stage adaptation of “A Christmas Story.”
The play is a comedic look into the hilariously tumultuous life of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker’s determined quest to obtain his dream Christmas gift.
The play will exude holiday tradition by staying true to the original written story by Jean Shepherd, the only exception being an increase in the size of the cast to more than 70 people.
Several of the older Ralph characters have been split among actors and several crowd scenes have been added to maximize the cast into a large production.
Pat Mears, interim executive director of the Waco Civic Theatre, said the theater traditionally presents a holiday-themed play during the Christmas season, this year being no exception with a stage adaptation of the 1983 film that has grown into a seasonal classic.
Joel Taylor, the director, said the stage adaptation is “fun, challenging, amazing, frustrating and fulfilling.” Taylor said the play is “surprisingly close to the film.”
“Our entire goal is just to bring entertainment to the community of Waco,” Mears said. “That’s what we are looking to do in the form of live entertainment using community people all the way through, from the production staff to the actors and everyone else involved.”
“We were very fortunate to have a large group of people that auditioned for this show, and [the director] was able to cast a good variety of those people,” Mears said.
Maintaining the authenticity of the time period was kept in mind when the production staff constructed the set and the costumes, finding period pieces for the set, such as the refrigerator, stove and radio.
“This show, unlike some of the other ones we have done, is not technically as difficult to costume because there are no elaborate costumes like petticoat dresses,” Mears said. “Except for the fact there are about 70 costumes this time.”
Taylor said this is a show that “has to have the right feel,” which ultimately resulted in his decision to maximize the cast by adding more children from the surrounding Waco communities to the mix.
Taylor has been commuting to and from Fort Worth, where he runs the theater arts and dance programs for Fort Worth Independent School District.
“We have a lot of kids in this show from different areas we haven’t had before,” Taylor said. “I really wanted to reach out to that.”
Taylor said several parents of the children have become involved as well, volunteering backstage and helping decorate the lobby for Christmas.
Kaley Eggers, a 2009 Baylor graduate, plays the mother in the show and said her recent time involved in the Waco Civic Theatre has been a great way to get re-involved with theater arts using the community rather than school productions.
“This show is worth seeing, but the kids make it even more enjoyable,” Eggers said. “They’re just hilarious.”
The show runs for two weekends, kicking off today with a special opening reception at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby of the theater, where finger foods and various beverages will be served. The play will begin at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices for today’s opening night include both the reception and the show, costing $17 for adults and $15 for students and seniors citizens over 60.
After today’s performance, tickets will cost $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. All Friday and Saturday shows will start at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinees will begin at 2:30 p.m.