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A Christmas Story Delights Once Again at Cleveland Play House

Posted December 2, 2019 in Press Releases

CLEVELAND, OH (December 2, 2019) The 2019 holiday season will bring back Cleveland’s favorite holiday tradition, the box office record-breaking production of A Christmas Story at Cleveland Play House (CPH). Performances begin November 29th and run through December 23rd in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square. Directed by John McCluggage, the cast features returning actors Christopher Gerson, Laura Perotta, Jeff Talbott and newcomers Anjanette Hall as Mother, Luke Stauffer as Randy and Ezra Bernstein as Ralphie. This production is sponsored by Dollar Bank and Pinecrest.

Based on the 1983 motion picture that was filmed in Cleveland, A Christmas Story has quickly become an annual holiday tradition for families of all generations. Now on it’s 12th year, these performances attract thousands of new guests to live theatre at Cleveland Play House. It’s the story of one boy, one holiday wish, and a world that seems to be conspiring to make certain it doesn’t come true.

A Christmas Story has been part of Cleveland Play House’s holiday tradition for 12 years now, and we are so proud to welcome families back to enjoy it each year,” says CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley. “We look forward to seeing familiar and many new faces, especially those of the young ones who may be experiencing theatre for the first time.”

Audience members are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy another CPH holiday tradition: the annual Festival of Trees.

REVIEWS

“It is an ingenious live stage production that captures all the wonder, magic and laughs of the original.” – Mark Horning

“The stage version…takes all that is appealing in the film and amplifies it.” –The Plain Dealer

The Creative Team

JEAN SHEPHERD (Author/Screenwriter) was a radio, television and film personality, writer and actor. For almost three decades, he told stories — culled from his youth in Indiana, his adventures in the Army Signal Corps, and tales of the obscure and infamous — to eager radio audiences. He was on the air in Cincinnati from 1950 to 1954 and on WOR in New York from 1956 to 1977. Acting credits include The Goodman Theatre, on Broadway in Leonard Sillman's New Faces and Voice of the Turtle, and the film The Light Fantastic. He also did baseball sportscasts for the Toledo Mudhens and Armed Forces Radio. He created humorous narratives for PBS television collectively called Jean Shepherd's America, which later continued on PBS’ New Jersey Network as Shepherd's Pie. PBS/WGBH's American Playhouse teleplay credits include The Phantom of the Open Hearth, The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss, and The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski. He is best known for co-writing and narrating the film A Christmas Story (1983). He also wrote a number of novels including The America of George Ade, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash; Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters, The Ferrari in the Bedroom, and A Fistful of Fig Newtons. Jean Shepherd died on October 16, 1999.

PHILIP GRECIAN (Adapter) began his career as a ventriloquist and magician at the age of four. He started working at Colorado’s Creede Repertory Theatre at age 18 where his plays continue to be produced and where he has returned as a guest performer. After touring the Midwest in Androcles and the Lion, Philip became artistic/managing director and resident playwright of the community theatre he founded. He resigned in 1976 to create a professional theatre where he served as producer and artistic director. Philip has also worked as a writer/director in film, video and audio production. His adaptation of A Christmas Carol has become an annual tradition around the U.S., and his radio dramatization of Dracula! is now a staged radio production. Other plays include the widely popular The Velveteen Rabbit, The Dragon of Nitt, and Lion and the Lyre.

JOHN McCLUGGAGE (Director) is delighted to return to Cleveland Play House and A Christmas Story. He has directed, taught, and performed throughout the country over the past 30 years. Credits include Enchanted April, Cyrano, A Flea in Her Ear, Phantom, Fiddler on the Roof, Old Wicked Songs, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, and The Pajama Game. Theatres include San Jose Repertory Theatre (associate artistic director), The Barnstormers Theatre, Studio Arena Theatre, Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts, Cabrillo Stage, Children’s Musical Theatre of San Jose, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, the Clurman, and Beckett Theatres in New York and Seacoast Repertory Theatre (artistic director). Like Buck Hill Productions on Facebook!

The Design Team for A Christmas Story includes: scenic design by ROBERT MARK MORGAN (Into the Breeches!, Sweat, The Diary of Anne Frank, All the Way, A Christmas Story, The Whipping Man, The Glass Menagerie, Emma, and Bill W. and Dr. Bob), costume design by DAVID KAY MICHKELSEN (The Diary of Anne Frank, All the Way, A Christmas Story, Bell, Book and Candle, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play), lighting design by MICHAEL BOLL (Into the Breeches!, Native Gardens, An Iliad, The Invisible Hand, These Mortal Hosts, The Good Peaches, A Christmas Story, The Little Foxes, Venus in Fur, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play), sound design by JIM SWONGER (The Good Peaches, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Venus in Fur, Noises Off!, I Am My Own Wife). Additional creative team members include: JOHN GODBOUT (Production Stage Manager) and KYRA BUTTON (Assistant Stage Manager).

THE ACTING COMPANY

The cast of A CHRISTMAS STORY includes:

JEFF TALBOTT (Ralph) is full of Christmas cheer and happy to be back sharing it with his family at CPH after opening the season in Into the Breeches! He has been on Broadway (Sly Fox, Fortune’s Fool); Off-Broadway (Abundance, Such Good Friends, Home of the Brave); and has extensive regional credits, including his most recent: the regional premiere of Oslo. Other regional credits: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Odd Couple, Race, circle mirror transformation, Frost/Nixon, and Doubt at theatres including Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Pioneer Theatre Company, Paper Mill Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, and Yale Repertory Theatre, among many others. He has been on film (Julie & Julia) and TV (The Blacklist, Orange is the New Black, Unforgettable, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, all the Law & Orders, One Life to Live, and As the World Turns). As a writer, his plays include The Submission (Laurents/Hatcher Award, Outer Critics Circle’s John Gassner Award; off-Broadway at MCC Theater); The Gravedigger’s Lullaby (Off-Broadway at TACT); i (Pioneer Theatre Company) and Civics and Humanities for Non-Majors (commissioned and produced by Montclair State University). He writes musicals with composer Will Van Dyke. They have written Imagine Harry, Wintersong, Seven Broken Hearts, and The Circle and the Wheel. They have also released an EP of their songs called A View of the River (available on iTunes). Jeff is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. jefftalbott.com

CHRISTOPHER GERSON (The Old Man) is thrilled to be returning to Cleveland Play House as The Old Man. Some recent credits include Fennyman in Shakespeare in Love and the title role in Richard III at the Great River Shakespeare Festival, Horatio in Hamlet at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Price at Triad Stage, and The Little Prince at The Pearl Theatre in New York. Other NY credits include the Red Bull Theater, Lark Theatre Company, and New Georges. Regional:South Coast Repertory, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Pioneer Theatre, Actor’s Gang, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and A Noise Within. TV and Film credits: The Good Fight, Mr. Robot, Younger, Desperate Housewives, Days of our Lives, Chicago Hope, The Language of Kickball, Fort Greene, Echo’s Hammer, Darwin: The Series.

ANJANETTE HALL (Mother) is delighted to be a part of A Christmas Story. She previously appeared at CPH in A Carol for Cleveland. Other Cleveland Theatre includes The Pilot in GROUNDED, Dora in An Octoroon, Aimee in The Night Alive, Becky in Becky Shaw, Lisa in The Lyons, and Veronica in The Motherf*$&er with the Hat at Dobama Theatre; Nora in A Doll’s House, Masha in Three Sisters, and Ellie Dunn in Heartbreak House at Mamai Theatre Company; and Ruth in Blithe Spirit at Coach House Theatre. Regional: includes Snow Falling on Cedars at Baltimore Center Stage; Opus at Two River Theatre; and Spring’s Awakening, JB at Red Stage Theatre Company. TV includes Gretchen Huber, NBC’s ED. Anjanette holds an MFA in Acting from Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts.

EZRA BERNSTEIN (Ralphie) is thrilled to debut with Cleveland Play House in A Christmas Story. His previous acting credits include Winthrop in The Music Man at Porthouse Theatre, Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, and Edgar in Ragtime with Canton’s Players Guild Theatre, and Jackie in Cheaper by the Dozen with Carnation City Players.

LUKE STAUFFER (Randy) recently appeared as child chorus in Frozen Jr. (Renissance Theater) and Napoleon in School House Rock Jr. (82nd Street Theater). Luke is a proud member of Cleveland Play House Theatre Academy. He is very pleased to share the stage again with his older sister Corlyn Stauffer.

CHASE OBERHAUS (Flick/Understudy: Ralphie) is in fifth grade at Spring Garden Waldorf School. In October, he performed in The Member of the Wedding (John Henry West) at Beck Center for the Arts. Prior stage credits: School of Rock (Billy) at Weathervane Playhouse, Oliver (orphan/pickpocket boy) at Medina Show Biz Company.

DEMETRIUS YARBROUGH, JR. (Schwartz) is a very energetic and fun loving nine year old and he plans to channel that energy into his role on stage. He also enjoys video games, riding his bike with friends, and has recently taken up playing the trumpet. Demetrius has been training in the arts for 3 years, and this will be his first big production.

THEO DENGLER (Scut Farkus) most recently appeared as the lead antagonist in the world premiere of Kristin Idaszak’s Wildfire and the Bird Scouts, directed by Luke Brett and staged by Pamela DiPasquale at Cleveland Play House. Theo also appeared in Cleveland Play House’s production of Aunt Leaf, and previously performed at St. Paul’s Cathedral School in London, England.

LAURA PERROTTA (Miss Shields) is a native New Yorker who has called Cleveland home for the last 21 years. She has appeared on television, Off-Broadway, toured nationally, and worked regionally. She appeared at Cleveland Play House as Mrs. van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank, and is honored and happy to return to CPH with A Christmas Story. Her most recent appearance was as Emma Arkadina in Stupid F---ing Bird at Dobama Theater.laura-perrotta.com

CORLYN STAUFFER (Esther Jane) recently appeared as Matlida in Matlida the Musical and Young Anna in Frozen Jr. (Renissance Theater). Other credits include Street Child in A Christmas Carol (Great Lakes Theater), Les in Newsies (Near West Theatre), and Mouse in A Year with Frog & Toad (82nd Street Theater). Corlyn has been dancing competitively for 9 years and is a proud member of the Cleveland Play House Theatre Academy.

KAYLANI CIKA (Helen) attends Cleveland Play House’s Theater Academy and has performed in a school production of Disney’s The Aristocats in the supporting role of Marie. Kaylani plays viola and piano as well as participating in Cleveland's All-City Children's Choir that has performed at Severance Hall and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Additional Casting includes:

GREGORY JAMES (Understudy: Ralph) received his B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from SUNY at Buffalo. Stage credits include Lucio in Measure for Measure, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, and Brooke in Little Women (Oberlin Summer Theater Festival); Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, David in Hay Fever, Trigorin in The Seagull, and

John in Fifth of July (CWRU/CPH). LA theatre: Summer and Smoke, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Lend Me a Tenor (Actors Co-Op Theatre Hollywood), and Some Girl(s) (LA Fringe). Film: Jilted for Glamour Magazine, Slow Clap Comedy, and the Actors Co-Op Series, The Fur is Gone. GregoryJamesActing.com

CONOR CANNING (Understudy: The Old Man) is a 2016 graduate of Georgetown University where he majored in Political Economy and minored in Theater and Performance Studies. During his time in the CWRU/CPH MFA program, Conor has played Lorzeno in The Merchant of Venice, Simon Bliss in Hay Fever, Medvenko in The Seagull, and Jed Jenkins in Fifth of July. Other notable credits include playing Joe Cooper in Killer Joe, Stacey Kinsella in The Metal Children, and Angelo in Measure for Measure.

ELISABETH A. YANCEY (Understudy: Mother) recently made her Cleveland Play House debut as Grace Richards in Into the Breeches!. Other credits with CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program include The Merchant of Venice, Hay Fever, The Seagull, and Fifth of July. Internationally, Elisabeth performed at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the world premiere of Call of the Void. Other favorite credits include CPH’s New Ground Theatre Festival in Cicada and Christina, and the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival in Romeo and Juliet and Little Women. Elisabeth holds a BA in Theatre Studies from Wellesley College, a certificate of classical acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and a certificate of literature from Cambridge University.

COURTNEY STENNET (Understudy: Miss Shields) graduated with her BFA in Performance from Baylor University. She most recently appeared onstage at Cleveland Play House as June Bennett in Into the Breeches! and as Nerissa/Salarino in the CWRU/CPH production of The Merchant of Venice. Regional: Chautauqua Theatre Company in One Man, Two Guvnors; A Midsummer Night's Dream; and in the New Play Workshop production of Agent 355. CWRU/CPH: Hay Fever as Judith Bliss, The Seagull as Masha, and Fifth of July as Sally Friedman. International: Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Call of the Void.

Additional Understudy Casting for A Christmas Story includes: AVALON BAYLEY (Understudy: Helen and Esther Jane), SHANE BUTLER (Understudy: Randy) , FERGUS DONNELLY (Understudy: Schwartz, Flick, and Scut Farkus).

Ticket Information

Tickets range from $25-$97. Young Professional discounts are available with our YP-CPH Membership. Ohio Direction/EBT cardholders receive $5 admission to any performance for up to 8 tickets. CPH is a proud Blue Star Theatre and offers military members a 50% discount on tickets to any performance throughout the season. Military members interested in attending use the promo code: BLUST to receive the discount.

Single tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 216.241.6000 or by visiting clevelandplayhouse.com. Groups of 10 or more can save up to 30% off single ticket prices by contacting CPH Groups Sales at 216.400.7011. Subscriptions are still available at the best low rates with amazing perks. Subscribe today and save up to 30%, with flexible small packages available, by calling the CPH Subscription Office at 216.640.8800 or by visiting clevelandplayhouse.com/subscribe.

ABOUT CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE

CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, founded in 1915 and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is America's first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences across Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Cleveland Play House is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Cleveland Play House is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. clevelandplayhouse.com

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