The live version of ‘A Christmas Story’ you can see right here in Dayton this week

A group of young actors from the Miami Valley will perform in “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre. The show is presented by the VTA and produced by The Human Race Theatre Company. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

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A group of young actors from the Miami Valley will perform in “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre. The show is presented by the VTA and produced by The Human Race Theatre Company. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

Iconic story will be produced by the Human Race Theatre

Eric David Pettit can definitely relate to Ralphie Parker’s 9-year-old dream of unwrapping a Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas morning. In Eric’s case, the coveted gift was a Playstation 3. This year, he confides, he’s hoping to find a ukulele under the tree.

Eric, a seventh-grader at Miamisburg Middle School, will appear as young Ralph in the upcoming production of “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre Dec 12-17. The comedy is being presented by the Victoria Theatre Association as a Star Attraction and is being produced by the Human Race Theatre Company.

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Eric says he can identify with his lovable character in a number of other ways as well. “Everything is life and death with Ralphie, and I can relate to that, too,” he says. He can also connect with the Parker family. “My dad works, my mom holds the house down, and I can relate to being the annoying younger brother,” admits Eric, who portrayed Ralphie’s younger brother, Randy, in the musical version of the play at La Comedia Dinner Theatre in 2015.

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“A Christmas Story” is based author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Pictured: Flick’s triple-dog-dare-ya. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

“A Christmas Story” is based author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Pictured: Flick’s triple-dog-dare-ya. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

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“A Christmas Story” is based author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Pictured: Flick’s triple-dog-dare-ya. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

The hilarious and touching comedy, based on the Jean Shepherd memoir of growing up in Cleveland in the 1940s, became a film classic when it premiered in 1983. Who can forget the temperamental furnace, the Scut Farcus affair, the leg lamp and the “double dog dare ya” with the school flagpole?

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Eric says his lifelong love for make-believe and pretending naturally segued into acting. “I like being different people,” says the 13-year-old, who has already established quite a resume. You may have seen him as Winthrop in Wright State’s University’s production of “The Music Man.” Other favorite roles have ranged from the White Rabbit in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to Jack in “Into the Woods, Jr.

Every year at holiday time, Eric says he looks forward to watching a “A Christmas Story” on television. “It’s such a feel-good show, everything works out and everyone is happy at the end,” he says.

He also enjoys the interaction with his older Ralph self who appears as the narrator in the memory play. “There’s a scene where the adult Ralph dresses like a cowboy and I get to talk to him and that’s cool!” says Eric.

Older Ralph will be played by Greg Mallios of Cincinnati, who has been in other plays at the Human Race and has also appeared in theatrical productions throughout our area as well as in shows in New York.

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Who can forget this iconic scene from “A Christmas Story?” The live comedy will be on stage at the Victoria Theatre. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

Who can forget this iconic scene from “A Christmas Story?” The live comedy will be on stage at the Victoria Theatre. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

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Who can forget this iconic scene from “A Christmas Story?” The live comedy will be on stage at the Victoria Theatre. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

Directing the show

New York director Igor Goldin is becoming a familiar face at the Human Race. He directed the world premiere of “26 Pebbles” and the workshop production of “Molly Sweeney.” He’s back in town to direct “A Christmas Story.”

“In my family the film took the place of a yule log because it was on television 24-hours a day,” recalls Goldin, who first saw the movie at a new multiplex with his dad as a youngster and remembers thinking it was odd. “I think it was ahead of its time,” he says now. ” It has aged so beautifully because our sensibility caught up to it. It has become a real source of nostalgia and resonates more as I get older. Now I understand the humanity in it — the constant human need to definite what’s important in our lives: love, protection, hope.”

It’s Mother Parker, he says, who is the glue that holds that family together. “She knows how to take any situation and get the family through it with grace.,” Goldin says. The role will be played by Teri Clark Linden.

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A Christmas Story is based on material from author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Here, Flick’s iconic “triple-dog-dare-ya.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

A Christmas Story is based on material from author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Here, Flick’s iconic “triple-dog-dare-ya.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

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A Christmas Story is based on material from author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Here, Flick’s iconic “triple-dog-dare-ya.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE

Working with young actors

Goldin says the presence of children is more significant in the play than in the movie and that the challenge of working with young actors is making sure they are natural on stage. In addition to Eric Pettit the young members of the cast include: Jason Caldwell (St. Anthony School) as Flick; Alex Glen (Incarnation School) as Randy; Reese Hornick (St. Charles Borromeo School) as Helen; Jack Lockwood (Beavercreek Ferguson Hall) as Scut Farkus and Noah Rutkowski (Salem Christian Academy) as Schwartz.

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Emery Kimmins (McKinney Middle School), Danika Márquez (Incarnation School), and JaBreayle Lyle (Stivers School for the Arts) fill out the children’s ensemble and serve as understudies. Katie Pees will portray Miss Shields; Tim Lile is The Old Man.

“What’s beautiful is that this family goes through hard times — they argue, the kids get in trouble and life is messy — but you never doubt that they really love each other,” says Goldin, who says our holiday movie viewing has finally caught up to “A Christmas Story.”

“We realize that it’s OK if our Christmas isn’t picture-perfect,” he says. “This play is about the importance of nostalgia — it’s your legacy, it gives you comfort. It’s proof that you’ve had a life. “


WANT TO GO?

What: "A Christmas Story," a Projects Unlimited Star Attraction presented by the Victoria Theatre Association and produced by the Human Race Theatre Company.

When: Tuesday, Dec. 12, through Sunday, Dec. 17. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton

Tickets: Prices range from $30 to $60. Purchase online at www.TicketCenterStage.com, at the Box Office, or call (937) 228-3630 or 888-228-3630. Group, military and student discounts available.

For information: www.victoriatheatre.com

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