Students in Schreiber High School’s Theatre Company in Port Washington have been working hard since the beginning of the school year to prepare for their upcoming performance of A Christmas Story.
A Christmas Story is based on the humorous writings of author Jean Shepherd. This holiday movie follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker, who spends most of his time dodging a bully and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a Red Ryder air rifle. Frequently at odds with his cranky dad, but comforted by his doting mother, Parker struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.
“The play version is so funny and so iconic,” director Christine Nelson said. “When you choose a show for a high school, you want that name recognition. A show that many people know the title of. This show is broadcasted during the holiday season and the characters are all fun and iconic.”
Attendees can expect to see a unique rendition of this upcoming performance. In the original script there are only 11 actors, Nelson was able to expand the cast to 20 actors, which allowed for more students to participate in the show.
“We see every single person that the narrator talks about,” Nelson said. “We get to see them visually on the stage. It has really become a true ensemble, with a lot of humor. The show will feature all the iconic scenes from the film, moments that people remember from watching the show on television.”
The students have been preparing and rehearsing for the show after school every day for the past two months. A lot of research goes into “getting into character” and preparing for the show.
“It’s research, in the beginning of every show we do a read through, which helps us get an idea who the character is and an understanding for the whole scheme of the show,” said Hannah Devlin, who plays Mrs. Shields. “From there, we watched the movie and asked our director for help. We take it upon ourselves to really do the part justice.”
“I think the audience is expecting to see the show that they grew up with and loved,” Devlin said. “They are going to be impressed with how well we put on the show. There’s only 20 of us but our dynamic works well together.”
The Schreiber Theatre Company production of A Christmas Story features a small cast. Alana Bernstein, Hannah Brooks, Noah Corsitto, Hannah Devlin, Emily Djohan, Miles Engel, Emily Gallucci, Samantha Goldman, Ryan Joslyn, Hannah Loeb, Robbie Meade, Lara Ozcayir, Dylan Schor, Bryson Shaub, Gavin Shaub, Max Siskin, Abby Smith, Nikki Stern, Derrick Weisburd and Christopher Williams are the students featured in the play.
“Performing with a smaller cast definitely allows us to become closer with everyone, and makes for better chemistry,” Nikki Stern, who plays Scott Farkus said. “When your cast is only 20 people, you have the opportunity to make better relationships. I became a lot closer with the freshman. I wouldn’t have known them otherwise.”
Devlin and Stern are both seniors this year and have enjoyed learning to play their characters.
“I play Scott Farkus, the bully of the town,” Stern said. “I’ve never played a villain in a Schrieber theatre show before, so this is a new character for me. The directors wanted us to branch out as seniors. It’s exciting and we’re both really enjoying it.”
Devlin plays Mrs. Shields, the teacher for all of the kids.
“It has been really fun, she’s eccentric in her own way,” Devlin said. “We have dream sequences in this show—this character has been really fun because there are different sides to her.”
The production team includes producer, Lauren Foster-Holzer, set decorators/builders Helen and Richard Albertson, propmasters Leah Siskin and Jessica Day Griffin, costume assistant Beth Weisburd and student assistant director, Ben Hegarty.
Nelson has been trying to get the rights to the show for the last five years and usually starts preparing the show in May for the September production. Nelson creates the costumes for all the shows by looking through the school’s costume collection to find the appropriate outfits for the play’s time period.
“Our producer and director have been helpful and extremely supportive,” Devlin and Stern said. “They make us feel like we’re all featured. Other [theater] companies don’t feature everyone. But our directors really want to make sure everyone has their own moment, which is something special that the Schriber theatre company has to offer. There are so many little moments even with smaller characters, but they each have their moment to shine.”
Evening performances are Friday, Nov. 22 and Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances are Saturday, Nov. 23 and Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices: general admission $20. Students under 18 with valid ID $10 and senior citizens are complimentary. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.portnet.org or the Schreiber Theatre Company Facebook page.