Relive the nostalgia of ‘A Christmas Story’

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

ACT brings classic holiday movie to the stage

Albert Lea Community Theatre is bringing a classic holiday movie to the stage this weekend with “A Christmas Story, The Musical.”

Directed by father-and-son team Glen and Nick Parsons, the musical features 29 actors — 14 adults and 15 children — some of whom are on the stage for the first time, Glen Parsons said.

The musical is set in the 1940s in the fictional town of Homan, Indiana. It follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts — an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle.

“This is a show — everybody knows the story — but it was a new musical,” Glen Parsons said. “None of us knew the music, but it has some real show stoppers.”

He noted the music and lyrics are by the same writers who gained notoriety in recent years for songs in “La La Land” and “Dear Evan Hanson.”

The musical features Joshua Brooks as Ralphie and Tony Segura as radio disc jockey Jean Shepherd, the adult Ralphie who narrates the story. Betsy Smith plays Ralphie’s mother, Stuart Ness plays The Old Man, his father, and Samuel Gustafson plays his brother, Randy.

Music was directed by Barb Lang, and a seven-person orchestra accompanies throughout.

The directors said cast members have practiced for about 6 1/2 weeks, and with so many young actors in the show, they had to take it back to original stage etiquette and basics in the beginning.

“We’ve wanted it to be a really good experience for them,” Glen Parsons said. “The kids have grown so much.”

The Parsons are no strangers to the theater. Though this is their first time for the duo to direct a musical together, Glen Parsons estimated he has directed about 25 plays and musicals during his career, and his son has directed films.

Glen Parsons said he and his son have been a great team — his son has a great sense of humor and has thought of many things throughout the process that he had never thought of.

“Staging a show is being a problem-solver,” he said.

Nick Parsons said anyone who has enjoyed the classic movie in the past will enjoy the show.

“The nostalgia of watching the original movie — coming to relive those moments,” he said. “It’s basically the movie but with amazing music.”

The musical will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Dec. 8-12 at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center, 147 N. Broadway in downtown Albert Lea. Shows start at 7:30 p.m., with the Sunday, Dec. 12, matinee at 2 p.m. 

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased over the phone by calling 1-877-730-3144, online at actonbroadway.com or at the box office. Tickets also are available at the Albert Lea Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

Cast list

Jean Shepherd: Tony Segura

Ralphie: Joshua Brooks

Mother: Betsy Smith

The Old Man: Stuart Ness

Randy: Samuel Gustafson

Schwartz: Isaac Lowe

Flick: Connor Hanson

Scut Farkus: Hayden Lowe

Grover Dill: Nevaeh Fleek

Esther Jane: Audrey Gustafson

Mary Beth: Nora Smith

Miss Shields: Christie Ness

Santa: Jason Howland

Adults Ensemble: Jon Cochran, Elizabeth Harty, Lana Howe, Lucas Johnson, Risha Lilienthal, Natalie Sue Martinez, Thomas Kenneth Martinez

Kids Ensemble:  Lia Cunningham, Mollie Johnson, Cora Klukow, Bailey Lowe, Eleanor Sue Martinez, Charlotte Poppel

Production staff

Directors: Glen Parsons, Nick Parsons

Music director: Barb Lang

Technical director/set designer: Mark Bartleson

Lighting designer: Dietrich Poppen

Choreographer: Erin Lowe

Stage manager: Karen Hendrickson

Production manager: Jason Howland

Costumes: Rosalie Truax, Mary Ellen Johnson

Props, set dressing: Teresa Howland

Lights: John Szymanowski

Spotlights: Lorna Beaver, Sue Runden

Sound: Neil Lang

Technical assistant: Laura Kuisle

Makeup: Phil Hanson, Heidi Stoltenberg

Orchestra: Doug Bathke (drums), Parker Jenson (double bass), Steve Krob (clarinet/alto sax), Barb Lang (piano), Todd Peterson (drums), Steve Weisgram (trumpet), Brenda Wichmann (trombone)