Triple Dog Dare you to see PTP’s ‘A Christmas Story’

Actors in “A Christmas Story’ include, from left, Asher O’Brian, Nicole O’Brian, Gus Woodman, Roman Hawkins and the Shane Moody who served as narrator.

WINNSBORO – If you don’t know what a triple dog dare is, you have much to learn from this iconic, nostalgic play by Philip Grecian, based on the movie of the same name.

In it, we meet Ralphie Parker (Gus Woodman) a boy growing up in pre-WWII Indiana who wants an official Red Ryder Air Rifle for Christmas but is told he he can’t have one because he will shoot his eye out. Not to be deterred, he plans and schemes to enlist the help of his teacher (Ashton Ward) and schoolmates, his parents, even Santa to fulfill his desire.

Meanwhile we are entertained by his fantasies of how he will save the day, beat the bad guys and be a hero as he takes aim at bullies and bad guys. 

Along the way his daydreams become more and more fantastical. Those scenes are when he most comes to life in the play. In fact, it was quite evident that all the children enjoyed them the most.

To move the story along and provide background is the grown-up Ralph who acts as the older and wiser narrator, played by Shane Moody.  Pine Tree Playhouse (PTP) is fortunate to have him on board. Ralphie’s parents are played by Nicole O’Brian, managing to look both beautiful and haggard at the same time, and Nate Moore, fearless as “The Old Man” who had his own dreams of winning it big.

Both parents were doing the best they could with what they had, reflected by the set, created by Frank McKinney and Matt Swanson on a wing and a prayer. It is a stark reminder of days gone by—with an old radio instead of tv and a furnace that smoked up the house. The impressive string of nonsensical “profanity” from Nate Moore’s character was awe-inspiring. 

Little brother Randy (Asher O’Brian) was funny and understated in his role as the baby in the family. Hezikiah Childers played the roles of Farcus, Desperado, and Black Bart with enthusiasm. There were several more children who stood out, such as Mari Woodman who played a girl with a crush on Ralphie. She’s a natural, with such an expressive face. Her brother, Ian Woodman, played Schwartz as well as a Desperado, both faithful friend and fierce combatant.

Cacey Isenhower, whose daughter Mary Beth did a good job in a minor role said “It’s very hard balancing everything, school and rehearsals, and it has kept the whole family busy, but it’s all worth it,” and from the look on her face, there on the front row watching her child, it was.

A Christmas Story was directed by Dee Pullen, assisted by Sara Pullen. Many of the gags from the movie were done offstage. While effective, it required some imagination from the audience.

A down side would be the lack of programs, but Ms. Pullen explained that the budget is extremely tight. Perhaps the PTP dream for Christmas is to find a check under the pine tree from well-wishers to allow them to keep bringing us the joy of local theater and a packed audience at all performances! Make a donation or reservation by calling 803-635-6847 or online at [email protected]

Three more performances Friday, Dec. 13 and Saturday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10, cash or check only.  Bring the kids, then go home and watch the movie.  Nobody will shoot their eye out!