Home for the Holidays: A Christmas Story, The Musical

Home for the Holidays: A Christmas Story, The Musical

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Mother (Jessica Skerritt), the Old Man (Dane Stokinger), Ralphie (Mark Jeffrey James Weber), and Randy (Brandon Oke) in A Christmas Story, The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
(Clockwise from left) Mother (Jessica Skerritt), the Old Man (Dane Stokinger), Ralphie (Mark Jeffrey James Weber), and Randy (Brandon Oke) in A Christmas Story, The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
Photo: Mark Kitaoka

Rehearsals began Tuesday for A Christmas Story, The Musical – the sensational hit Seattle can’t stop talking about.  After premiering at The 5th Avenue Theatre in 2010, A Christmas Story, The Musical spent two wildly successful holiday seasons in New York City and spurred a national tour. Now this delightful musical is returning home for the holidays.

With direction by Seattle’s own Brandon Ivie, (the associate director for the show’s Broadway premiere) and choreography by Mara Newbery, A Christmas Story, The Musical  stars real-life husband and wife Dane Stokinger and Jessica Skerritt as The Old Man and Mother, alongside Mark Jeffrey James Weber as Ralphie and Brandon Oke as Randy.  Acclaimed Seattle actor Kurt Beattie makes his 5th Avenue debut, joining the cast as Jean Shepherd.

A Christmas Story, The Musical plays November 25-December 30 at The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101). Tickets (starting at $29) may be purchased online at www.5thavenue.org, by phone at 206-625-1900, or at the Box Office at 1308 5th Avenue in Downtown Seattle.

A Christmas Story, The Musical follows a bespectacled boy named Ralphie and his one wish for Christmas – a Red Ryder BB Gun. Up against a kooky leg lamp, an outrageous pair of pink bunny pajamas, one cranky department store Santa and a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole, Ralphie must overcome all odds to make his Christmas dream a reality.

Featuring a book by Joseph Robinette, and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, A Christmas Story, The Musical is based upon the motion picture A Christmas Story(Turner Entertainment Co., Distributed by Warner Bros, Written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark) and In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash (written by Jean Shepherd.)

Mother (Jessica Skerrit) and Randy (Brandon Oke) in A Christmas Story, The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo: Mark Kitaoka
Mother (Jessica Skerrit) and Randy (Brandon Oke) in A Christmas Story, The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
Photo: Mark Kitaoka

“We could not be more thrilled to have A Christmas Story back on our stage,” said 5th Avenue Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong. “Developing new musicals is at the heart of what we do here at The 5th, so it is exceptionally rewarding when a musical like A Christmas Story experiences such great success across the country, and then returns to our stage.  We are excited to give our Seattle stars the chance to bring this show to life.”

Issaquah native Ivie returns from New York to direct this holiday hit. Ivie was last at The 5th at the helm of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, for which he received a Footlight Award.  Ivie spent four seasons as Casting Associate and Artistic Projects Manager at The 5th, and worked directly on A Christmas Story, The Musical when it played at The 5th in 2010. He continued to work with the show through its national tour the following year, and went with the show to Broadway as the associate director.  Additional Broadway credits include assisting on productions of First Date, the MusicalNext to Normal; and Catch Me If You Can.

Weber returns to The 5th Avenue Theatre as Ralphie Parker after wowing audiences last winter as Oliver Twist in Oliver! The Kings School eighth grader is no stranger to the stage and has sung with jazz diva Carmen Bradford, Dove winner Brandon Heath, the Seattle Children’s Chorus, and at the Hampton and DiMiero Jazz Festivals. He is joined by Brandon Oke who makes his 5th Avenue debut as little brother (and fussy eater) Randy.  A fourth grader from Everett, Oke has been seen in Peter Pan at Lyric Light Opera, and delighted families as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol at Seattle Musical Theater.

Stokinger and Skerritt portray the Old Man and Mother.  Stokinger was critically-acclaimed for his portrayal of Lancelot (and many others) in The 5th’s hit production of Monty Python’s Spamalot, with other 5th Avenue credits including Pirates of PenzanceDamn YankeesJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatCandide, and Guys and Dolls.  He toured nationally and internationally with productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Miss Saigon and has performed regionally with Village Theatre, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, East LA Classic Theatre, and The Ordway.

Skerritt has many 5th Avenue credits of her own, including roles in ELF – the Musical, Hairspray in Concert and Guys and Dolls. She has also starred in 5th Avenue/ACT co-productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Grey Gardens.  She has performed regionally at ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, Village Theatre, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater, and Arizona Theatre Company.

Mark Jeffrey James Weber as Ralphie in A Christmas Story, The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre.  Photo: Mark Kitaoka
Mark Jeffrey James Weber as Ralphie in A Christmas Story, The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
Photo: Mark Kitaoka

Beattie makes his 5th Avenue debut as beloved radio personality Shepherd.The artistic director of ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, Beattie has worked for nearly 40 years throughout the country as an actor, playwright and director. He has performed regionally at such theaters as Intiman, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, and the Empty Space Theatre.

McCarthy returns to The 5th to portray Miss Shields after eight years away from the stage.  Prior to that, she appeared regularly at the best houses in Seattle, including Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, Intiman Theatre, and Seattle Children’s Theatre.

Ralphie’s world of friends (and enemies) includes Liam Loughridge as Schwartz, Bryan M. Kinder as Flick, Caden Brauch as Scut Farkus, and Kristoffer Holtan as Grover Dill.  The children’s ensemble also features Noah Barr, Callan Barth, Mikaela Bautista, Eliana Coe, Kelsie Engen, Jasmine Harrick, Quinn Maxwell Liebling, Tarah Mehra, Priya Niehaus, and Amelia Stiles.

Joining the show as the cast are Taryn Darr, Sarah Rose Davis, Stephen Diaz, Allen Fitzpatrick, Charlie Johnson, Ulyber Mangune, McKayla Marso, Trina Mills, Richard Peacock, Matthew Posner, Aaron Shanks, and Jenny Shotwell.

Choreographer Mara Newbery brings her experience as the dance captain in the Broadway production of A Christmas Story, The Musical to Seattle where she will bring lively new dance numbers to life for The 5th Avenue audiences. Additional credits include roles in On Your Toes at New York City Center Encores and the first national tour of Shrek, the Musical, with regional credits including Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and Madison Square Garden, among others.

And now to the dogs. Broadway stars Pete and Lily are a couple of bloodhounds trained by Tony-honored animal trainer William Berloni.  The two hounds were rescued from a shelter by Berloni and trained for that infamous holiday scene in which a certain turkey gets stolen by the neighbor’s dogs.  They will reprise their roles here in Seattle under handler Schuyler Beeman.

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