Photos by Ryan Loyd, Rylo Media Design

This production was scheduled November 17-December 23, 2023.

“You’ll shoot your eye out!”

If that admonition reminds you of anything other than Christmas, a working-class midwestern family, and a nine-year-old boy who only wants a BB gun from Santa, you will want to purchase your tickets right away to see a certain holiday production currently on stage in downtown SLO.

If you do recognize the oft-repeated phrase as the hallmark of what has become a classic American tale, then as with all tried-and-true seasonal traditions, you also will want to make reservations now for SLO REP’s tenth rendition of A Christmas Story, playing through December 23.

SLO REP’s commitment to producing the comedy, based on the 1983 film and the earlier writings of Jean Shepherd, means that the story of Ralphie Parker (played by Jude Biggers as a boy and by Ben Abbott as a grown man reminiscing about bygone days) has become as much a standard of local holiday fare as productions of The Nutcracker.

Biggers and Abbott both return, anchoring the production in the same roles they played last year, with the same dedication to telling an endearing tale while giving the rest of the cast room to shine as well. SLO REP veterans Seth Blackburn and Amanda Thayer as Ralphie’s parents are delightful, with newcomer Lauren Omernik gleefully taking on the role of Miss Shields (perhaps enjoying her fanciful turn as a wicked witch in one of Ralphie’s daydreams a little too much!).

Director Kevin Harris has ensured that all the young actors in his cast get time in the spotlight, with Lucy Beck, Grace Black, Simone Spence, Maxine Castillo, and Aurora Joy Lester-Cook as Ralphie’s school chums, some of whom torment him and some of whom fancy him (both to his utter horror and our amusement). Then there is Logan Raftery, also reprising his role as Ralphie’s younger brother Randy, who is a small bundle of energy and delight—even when encased in the mummy-like wrappings of midwestern winter wear.

Thanks to SLO REP and its cadre of committed actors, behind-the-scenes magicians, and dedicated staff (you know who you are), A Christmas Story brings its magic once again to local believers—those who believe in the power of live theatre to enchant and engage us all.

:: Charlotte Alexander