Based on the 1983 movie that's achieved Christmas time cult film status, A Christmas Story the Musical is coming to the Hobby Center for the holiday season courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars.
The 2-1/2 hour show (with intermission) tells the story of Ralphie Parker whose only wish for a Christmas present is a Red Ryder BB gun – complete with the memorable ensemble number “You'll Shoot Your Eye Out.” Set in the early 1940s, the musical is based upon stories by Jean Shepherd who wrote about his experiences growing up in Indiana in the 1930s.
Ralphie is played by Estus Stephens, 12, who is homeschooled which he says gives him plenty of flexibility for rehearsals. He describes his character as “wishful. He's smart, caring some times and happy.”
Sean Graul, 11, who goes to Hamilton Elementary in the Cy-Fair Independent School District plays Ralphie's younger brother Randy whom he describes as “bratty, stupidy and a little bit nosy.” Asked if it was difficult to act like that, Graul says: “Not really. People have told me that I'm good at the part with laughing and screaming and crying.” He describes his scream as sounding “like a dying cow.”
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Both are veterans of several productions: Stephens (Pugsly in The Addams Family, Horton in Seussical the Musical) Graul (Pinocchio in Shrek the Musical and Michael Banks in Mary Poppins). Both say they became interested in acting at a young age and Graul, for one, sees it as a career with a lot of long term opportunity. “It kind of never ends. You can do it for as long as you live. There are some people that are on Broadway and they're like 98. They can still dance. It's amazing.”
Even in their short careers so far, each has encountered mishaps on stage. Stephens was in Xanadu Jr. when the giant onstage sign that said Xanadu fell flat. “We ran off stage.” And in one performance of Shrek, instead of Pinocchio's nose growing periodically, “it fell off,” Graul says. In Mary Poppins during the Step In Time number, he missed his leap to the next chimney and fell. It hurt, he says, but he kept on dancing. Then he demonstrates a few tap steps for us, negotiated in sneakers no less.
Both are excited about being part of what they think is a very big show. “It's really a show that can remind you and make you feel that holiday season. It's a way to lose yourself in a holiday story.,” Stephens says. “It was such a big movie in the 1980s,” Graul says. “We're just adding songs and adding more lines.” Because of some of the language TUTS advises the show is for ages 8 and above.
7:30 p.m. Tuesdays Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 800 Bagby. Through December 20. For information call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. or the hobbycenter.org. $45.75 - $138.50.