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ACT's 'A Christmas Story' opens tonight

Caelan Tirrel, left, and and Michael Doorn talk about what they are giving their dads for Christmas during rehearsal for the Area Community Theatre production of "A Christmas Story" Tuesday. (Jennifer Jungwirth/Republic Photo)

Fans of the holiday classic "A Christmas Story" won't have to wait until the 24-hour marathon on Christmas Eve to catch their favorite flick. The tale of Ralphie and his scheme to get a Red Ryder "200-Shot Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time" for Christmas will be told on the stage at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre for the Performing Arts.

The show, directed by Terri Jacklin, opens at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Other performances include 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 10-11, and 2 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 12.

Tickets are $10 and $12 and can be purchased at The Antique Mall or by calling 996-1948.

Bob Way, Mitchell, returns as the narrator of what he says is his favorite Christmas tale.

"Whether you're 10 years old or 65, you can pull something away from it. It's such an innocent story," Way said. "And every kid has a story of a Red Ryder or (some toy). For girls, it might have been that Barbie doll."

Way said he strives to get certain wording exactly like the movie during memorable scenes, but overall, he just tries to be personable, like he's telling the story to a group of friends gathered around the kitchen table.

That's just the kind of heartwarming story it is, newcomer Misty Grimsley said.

"It shows what's important at Christmas. It's not always the stuff; it's having family and people to spend Christmas with," Grimsley said.

She joined the cast as "Mom," a pretty comfortable and fitting role.

"I was OK with accepting the role. I'm a mom of five. How hard could it be to play a mom?" Grimsley said.

In fact, she plays mom to her actual son. Elias Grimsley plays Randy, Ralphie's younger brother. Her daughter, Raina, is also in the play.

"It's fun to do it with the kids," she said. "Having them come and be a part of the practices is bonding time."

Although a Christmas classic for many, there were a few cast members who had never seen "A Christmas Story" prior to being cast in the production.

"My kids told me it was a neat movie. But I've always been a fan of 'It's a Wonderful Life,' " said Chris Lippert.

Lippert, who was cast opposite of Misty Grimsley as Dad, has since watched the movie. He's drawn some inspiration from the film, but he still said he tried to make it his own.

"(My character) reminds me of my mother and the way she dealt with us kids," he said.

Twelve-year-old Brady Nicolaus is playing the infamous character of Ralphie.

And like his character, Nicolaus has a taste for BB guns.

He's had his own Red Ryder, but what he really wanted was an air soft gun. It didn't take scheming and persuasion like it does for Ralphie, though.

"I just pretty much told my parents," he said.

In addition to the holiday performance, ticketholders can put their name in for a raffle to win their very own Red Ryder BB gun. And a word of advice to the lucky winner: If you're not careful, you'll shoot your eye out.