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“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”
Civic alum Doug King guest Directs Civic Theatre’s A Christmas Story: the Musical
By Rod King
Fort Wayne Reader
During the holiday season, Ralphie, Farkus and the Old Man have become almost as iconic as candy canes, Christmas trees, and shopping mall Santas.
The Fort Wayne Civic’s production of A Christmas Story: the Musical begins its run on Saturday, November 7, and offers a new musical twist in the classic tale. Don’t panic — the leg lamp, the quest for the Red Ryder BB gun… it’s all there, but this time with some catchy and very funny tunes to go with it.
Doing double duty as both director and choreographer is Doug King, New Haven High School and Ball State University Graduate and Fort Wayne Civic alum. This show marks the ninth time he has been invited to be guest director of a musical at the Civic.
King, who performed as one of the brothers in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat for two years with Donnie Osmond in Canada and Chicago, directed Joseph here first in 2004 and then again in 2009. In 2006 he directed Seussical, Plaid Tidings in 2007, Godspell in 2012, Cinderella in 2013 and both Spamalot and Shrek last year.
Executive Artistic Director of Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, Phillip Colglazier, says “it’s always nice to have Doug back to direct and choreograph a show. He’s very organized, the actors love to work with him and he always puts forth an extremely professional and entertaining product.”
King, who lives in Indianapolis, says he always looks forward to returning to the Civic. “I’m really comfortable working here because the staff is easy to work with, the management is open to suggestions and allows me a lot of latitude for my ideas and the work ethic of the performers is outstanding. It’s fun to come back because I got my start here in shows at New Haven High School, the Civic Youth Theatre and on the Civic stage.
“Biggest challenge of doing A Christmas Story the Musical, is to bring out what people know and love about the movie while blending it seamlessly with the music so that it doesn’t give the feeling of two different plays. The movie is a cult favorite and people who have seen it will have certain expectations.”
“I have not seen the original show, which was first produced in 2013, and frankly I don’t want to because I would find myself stealing gimmicks or special moments. I prefer to work with the book and use my own creative input to present a work that pleases our audience. It’s exciting to work on something new rather than just doing an old standard.”
King has incorporated the narrator into the show as one of the main characters. Instead of having him delivering lines from the side of the stage or off stage, he will be interacting with the other characters. In fact, he’ll also play the telegram messenger, the man who delivers the “major award” and the Chinese waiter. As King puts it, “he’ll be an integral part of the performance and not a distraction.”
“Unlike some shows, the music for this show goes right along with the plot,” says King. “It brings out the personalities of the characters and plays up their fantasies. One song called ‘Ralphie to the Rescue’ capitalizes on his dream of subduing a gang of desperados with his Red Rider air rifle. Another is the warning he gets from his teacher in the song ‘You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out’.”
“When Scut Farkas and his diminutive sidekick, Grover Dill, bust on the scene to terrorize Ralphie and his brother, Randy, on their way to school, they’ll bully the kids with a song called When You’re a Wimp. Their dad, simply known as ‘The Old Man’, loves his crossword puzzles, so there’s a song called Genius of Cleveland Street. Of course, there’s a song about him winning a “major award” which is accompanied by a leg lamp kick line which just adds to the fun.”
King says he knew right from the beginning that he had assembled a very skilled group of actors. “Many are veteran Civic performers and are well suited for their parts. They jumped right into their roles and adapted to their characters nicely.” The part of The Old Man’ is played by Todd Frymier and Ralphie and Randy’s mom is Aimee Lackey, Chali Moss plays Ralphie, Duncan Keirns is Randy, Stephanie Longbreak is Ralphie’s teacher, Miss Shields, and the Narrator is Ken Low.
A Christmas Story the Musical
Fort Wayne Civic Theatre
Arts United Center
303 E. Main St.
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Evening Performances: Nov. 7, 13, 14, 20, 21 at 8 p.m.
Matinee performances: Nov. 8, 15 and 22 at 2 p.m.
Box office: 424-5220
Tickets: Adults $29, seniors $24, youths 23 and under $17