A Christmas Story Story

10 Dec

Last night, I saw A Christmas Story at the Rep in Little Rock, as part of a fabulous office party for my husband’s agency. The evening started off swimmingly for several reasons.

  • We found cheap parking.  $2.50 for a whole day! Am I crazy or are those rates unheard of in Houston?
  • We had an abundance of little food to try and try again. (Cordon Bleu Balls!) For all you cultured people out there, read: hors d’oeuvres for little food.
  • We had an interesting insight into co-workers opportunity. I love seeing people I know from a work context suddenly shifted into a spouse or family context. To borrow from the classic “Mean Girls”, it’s like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs.

But once the curtains rose, things got a little dicey.

Front Row a No Go

We all had front row seats. And I will admit that the idea of the Front Row still had mystic appeal for me left over the common childhood obsession to be close to the action. And I believe that the Front Row rule still applies to some concerts and all roller coasters. But I learned last night that it most definitely does not apply to plays (at least to me). The first 3 minutes in the front row were pure torture. They kicked things off with an (overly long) a cappella rendition of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. Instead of being able to appreciate the four-part harmony, I had to crane my neck at an unnatural angle to see more than the peoples’ shoes while trying to smile. My skin itched and my palms sweated as the spotlight illuminated my awkward position (not a place I want to be during a play I’m not in).  Sigh. It was an uncomfortable first act. We snagged seats in the back for the 2nd and it was much better (comfort-wise).

Narrator Conundrum

For anyone who has seen the movie, you know it is voiceover narrator-driven. To achieve this affect in play form, the script features an adult narrator Ralph walking around and even interacting with the characters as little Ralphie’s inspiration or the guy who delivers the “Major Award.” And no, I haven’t gotten to the narrator conundrum part yet. It is a puzzle that may just haunt me till my dying day. No, the gut wrenchingly “why?” narrator intrusion came during the iconic tongue-stuck-to-the-pole scene. Instead of poor Triple Dog Dared Flick pretending his tongue was stuck to the flag pole (that was conveniently on stage) the little boy stuck out his tongue and narrator held it in place. EW! WHY? WHY?!!

Enough said.

Overacting Record

Ok, I’ll admit it is much easier for me (kind natured girl that I am) to write a rave. And I will start of this section by saying that the set was great! It was a very cute reproduction of a 1940s house, complete with a detailed kitchen, functional stairs, and a smoking furnace.

Now, for the constructive criticism.

The actors must have been coached to play to the back of the room. And let’s just say they were extreme overachievers. Instead of just the back of the room, they acted for people dead or in a coma 20 miles down the road. I know, ouch.  But so painfully true. If they were going for the overacting world record, they may have won it. In fact, I’m going to look it up right now. Nothing yet. I’ll keep you posted.

True Christmas Lesson

After all this belly aching, I am happy to report that I was pleasantly reminded about a key theme of the holiday season. In a rare moment of seriousness, the narrator Ralph simply stated that his childhood Christmases were great because of the love his family shared. I know, I usually cringe at sentimentalism too, but this idea is so simple and so true, that it struck me. Christmas isn’t about that perfect gift, but the memories those special Christmas mornings and misadventures produce.

Awww. Right?

Enjoy the weekend! Stay warm and happy in this holiday season.

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