ralphie

Hayden Swartsel dreams of getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

Ralphie Parker wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, but everyone around him insists he’ll shoot his eye out if he gets one.

“A Christmas Story: The Musical,” which wraps up its two-week run this weekend at the Omak Performing Arts Center, details how Ralphie schemes to get the firearm of his dreams.

And dreams play a prominent part in the show, being staged by the Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus. Curtain times are 7 p.m. May 10 and 11, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 12 – Mother’s Day.

Lest the viewer think, because the show is set during the holiday season, that it’s not appropriate for spring, it really is appropriate any time of year. Organizers stress that its message of family is appropriate for Mother’s Day.

The story is told through the eyes of Jean Shepherd, portrayed by Don Pearce, as he harks back to his childhood and the Red Ryder gun he wanted as a child. Shepherd, a radio announcer, serves as narrator with his commentary gluing the various scenes together.

“A Christmas Story: The Musical” is a tuneful version of the 1983 film “A Christmas Story,” with lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and book by Joseph Robinette. The film is based on writings by American storyteller Jean Shepherd.

The action takes place in 1940s Indiana, so the costuming has a fun, nostalgic twist to it. The many children in the cast are decked out in period clothing, with the girls wearing muted plaid skirts.

Hayden Swartsel is solid in the role of Ralphie, with Finnegan McElderry as his younger brother, Randy. Both belt out their lines; Swartsel has a nice, clear singing voice.

Meaghan McElderry is wonderful as the mother, singing her way into the audience’s hearts with “What a Mother Does.”

Doug Brandt portrays The Old Man, aka the boys’ father. He’s a man obsessed with entering contests, one of which pays off with the infamous leg lamp as a prize.

With so many children in the cast, one might think action would be chaotic. Those kids did a stellar job of hitting their marks, singing beautifully and dancing up a storm. They were a delight to watch.

Scenery is simple and effective, with lighting changes keying dream sequences that include Ralphie in the Old West using the Red Ryder to ward off outlaws and Miss Shields, the teacher (portrayed by Noni Alley), praising Ralphie’s essay about why he wants a Red Ryder for Christmas.

Nicole Leese directs the show, with conductor Matt Brown and a small instrumental ensemble in the pit.

If you’re in the mood for a heartwarming, funny romp through the mind of Ralphie Parker, check out “A Christmas Story: The Musical.”

Dee Camp is a reporter for The Chronicle. Email her at dcamp@omakchronicle.com.

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