Our performing arts correspondent Dean Rhodus shares his review of A Christmas Story.
The show is playing now through December 18 at the 2nd Space Theater in the Tower District.
For more information, call (559) 266-0660.
A CHRISTMAS STORY IS FUNNY AND THOUGHTFUL
Christmas. The word conjures so many thoughts and
feelings and memories. Having lived
through so many of them, I must confess that as much as I love it, I sometimes
dread it. I think it's because it's only
through the eyes of my dear grandchildren that I only faintly remember what it
used to embody. This production returns
me to those sweet moments of holiday and family and adolescence and hope, and
maybe most importantly for me, a time of pure innocence.
Jean Shepherd, author of "A
Christmas Story", has penned the second most favorite Christmas story for
Americans after "It's a Wonderful Life" by the legendary writer, producer and
director Frank Capra. Shepherd has
accomplished a very difficult thing; he has called to the memory of an old
Scrooge the fleeting moment in the human drama known as innocence. Wow! Not an easy thing to achieve. Unabashed innocence. Innocence is
in fact defined by its unabashed ness.
Shepherd's verbal agility,
wildly funny lines and overly dramatic perspectives brilliantly reveal and
remind how adolescence is, in relation to the great power structure, parenthood
and teachers. He had a great gift. I reveled in his talent. He did for the 50's what Garrison Keillor
does for Minnesota. It is true
Americana. It is well worth spending a
couple of hours with such a man.
One of the responsibilities
of a director is to understand the words on the page, peel back their meaning
and communicate that meaning to a cast and thereby an audience, without getting
in the way. He allowed the humor without
trouncing the wisdom. One appreciates
Robert Sanchez's efforts to this end.
As to individual performances
one appreciates Gus Short's whole hearted commitment to everything he
does. Ralph, in the person of Brian Rhea
was fetching. Mother, played by
Elizabeth Stoeckel, was properly wife-like, as she was tolerant of the old man
and loving to her charges. The old man,
Jonathon Hogan, was wonderfully oblivious to all but his all consuming world of
cars, lamps and furnaces. Ralphie
Parker, played by Samuel Linkowski, captured the sincere, innocent and complete
gullibility of young males in 50's America, which frankly, I wish I could be
I encourage all, man and
woman, boy and girl, parent and child, young or old, to go to 2nd
Space Theater, and take home the spirit of a time, which Jean Shepherd
describes so warmly and accurately. I
think you'll agree that it will have been positively worth it!
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