A CHRISTMAS STORY to Return to Cleveland Play House for the Holidays

By: Nov. 11, 2016
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The most popular show in Cleveland Play House history is back just in time for the holidays! A Christmas Story will once again delight Cleveland audiences with its nostalgic tale of little Ralphie Parker and his ultimate Christmas wish.

Based on the original motion picture which was filmed in Cleveland, A Christmas Story has captured the hearts of Clevelanders who claim the story as their city's own. Each year, A Christmas Story is responsible for introducing thousands of new guests to live theatre at Cleveland Play House. With a storyline that appeals to a multi-generational audience, A Christmas Story has become an annual holiday traditional for many Northeast Ohio families.

Running Nov. 25 - Dec. 23 in the Allen Theatre, audience members are encouraged to arrive early to take advantage of another CPH holiday tradition: the Festival of Trees. Dozens of beautifully decorated trees will await guests upon their arrival prior to each show.

A Christmas Story is the witty and heart-warming stage production written by Philip Grecian and based on the motion picture written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark. The story takes place in the 1940s and follows nine-year-old Ralphie Parker down the streets of Indiana on his quest for the ultimate Christmas gift. Incorporating all of the most memorable elements from the movie, along with some exciting new scenes for the stage, A Christmas Story has become the most popular show in Cleveland Play House history. With an incredible cast of both local and national actors under the direction of John McCluggage, this holiday treat is sure to delight audiences of all ages.

A Christmas Story will take place in the Allen Theatre from Nov. 25 - Dec. 23. Tickets range in price from $25-$90 each. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com. Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

A Christmas Story Special Events - All FREE

Behind-the-Scenes: Making Holidays Come Alive

Saturday, December 10 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. The pink-bunny-suit world of our holiday favorite A Christmas Story doesn't just show up in the mailbox like a Little Orphan Annie decoder pin! It takes planning, coordination, and organization - not to mention the immense talents of the CPH Production staff - to work it all out. See how this blockbuster show comes together with CPH Production Stage Manager John Godbout and Director of Production Joe Martin. They'll give us a hands-on introduction on what it takes to keep the CPH theatre magic running this holiday season.

Visit clevelandplayhouse.com to register.


Sunday, December 4 from 9:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday, December 11 from 9:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. Stay after the show to continue the conversation our plays start! TalkBacks offer the chance to interact with the cast and CPH Artistic Staff in an open and lively Q&A about the play and the questions it raises.

Pre-Show Conversations begin 45 minutes prior to the start of each performance.

Festival of Trees

November 25 - December 23

Get into the spirit of the season with our beloved annual holiday tradition, Festival of Trees. The Allen Theatre lobbies will shine brightly with the twinkling lights of trees masterfully decorated by local designers. As always, this family-friendly event is free, open to the public, and sure to be a delight for all. CPH is grateful for the support of Presenting Sponsor Dominion and Sapphire Sponsor K&D. For times/dates, visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com/festival-of-trees.


TOMMY BILCZO (Ralphie) is ecstatic and honored to be making his Cleveland Play House debut. Most recently seen as Young Josh in Big, The Musical (Beck Center for the Arts), Tommy began acting with TrueNorth Cultural Arts Center as Randy in A Christmas Story, The Musical in the third grade. Now in the fifth grade at Brookside Intermediate School in the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake School District, Tommy has enjoyed working in a number of local productions including Les Miserables, School Edition (MAD* Factory); Shrek, The Musical (Olde Towne Hall); Oliver! (Beck Center for the Arts); and a variety of TrueNorth Cultural Arts Center and French Creek productions. Tommy has sung the national anthem for sporting events, most recently for the Lake Erie Crushers. Tommy studies voice and the trumpet. When he's off stage, Tommy likes to read, sing, play sports, and have fun with his friends.

LEXI COWAN (u/s Helen and Esther Jane) is a fifth grader at Laurel School and is thrilled to be performing with Cleveland Play House for the first time! She earned her first professional acting job at age 3½ when she played the role of Rosie Conlon in the Lionsgate film, Warrior. She has since appeared in the Focus Features film, Promised Land, as well as numerous others. Lexi has been seen at Playhouse Square as Little Cosette in Great Lakes Theater's Les Miserables, and multiple times as a solo vocalist with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. She has appeared in a variety of TV commercials and print ads. Lexi is represented by the Docherty Agency in Cleveland and the Abrams Artists Agency in New York City.

Christopher Gerson (The Old Man) is thrilled to be returning to the Cleveland Play House to reprise his role as The Old Man. Some recent New York credits include The Little Prince at the Pearl Theatre, Red Bull Theater, LArk Theatre Company, and New Georges. Regional credits include The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, South Coast Repertory, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Actors' Theatre of Louisville, Pioneer Theatre, Actor's Gang, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, A Noise Within, and The Great River Shakespeare Festival. Television and Film credits include Mr. Robot, Younger, Desperate Housewives, Days of our Lives, Chicago Hope, The Language of Kickball, Fort Greene, Echo's Hammer, and Darwin: The Series.

Madeleine Maby (Mother) is thrilled to be back at Cleveland Play House doing A Christmas Story! Favorite New York credits include Weekend at an English Country Estate, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, and Mr. A's Amazing Maze Plays (The Ateh Theater Group, of which she is a founding member); And to the Republic and The Tragedy of King Arthur (Guerrilla Shakespeare Project); and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Atlantic Theater Company). Favorite regional credits include Boeing-Boeing and Witness for the Prosecution at The Barnstormers Theatre in New Hampshire. Madeleine went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts where she studied at The Atlantic Theater Company and in London. When she's not doing theatre, Madeleine is narrating audiobooks and is approaching the 100 book mark.

REBECCA MARZLOFF (Helen) is currently a fifth grader in the Medina City Schools. Rebecca began acting at age five, when she appeared as orphan Molly in Annie Jr. Other credits include: Little Mermaid Jr., Willy Wonka Jr., Seussical, Snow Queen, Shrek Jr., Cinderella, and most recently, Alice in Wonderland. Outside of theater, Rebecca sings, plays piano, runs with the "Girls on the Run" running club, and is also involved with church activities at her parish. She loves spending time with friends, extended family, and especially her three year old golden retriever Belle. She is thrilled to be working with everyone involved with A Christmas Story at Cleveland Play House.

Ian McLaughlin (Randy) is honored and thrilled to be making his Cleveland Play House debut. Ian is 9 years old and a fourth grader at Incarnate Word Academy. He has been enjoying performing at local youth theaters since the age of five. Ian recently completed summer intensive classes in NYC with Broadway Artists Alliance. Previous performances include Master William/Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (Great Lakes Theatre) and Bud Ogdan-Porter in Mothers and Sons (Beck Center for the Arts). Ian also has enjoyed doing voiceovers for a children's book, musical album, and a commercial. Performing various roles for background in movies and taking tap lessons have also put a lot of smiles on Ian's face. He recently took up fencing, skateboarding, and the violin. Ian also enjoys singing and has memorized all the lyrics from Hamilton.

STANLEY NIEKAMP (Scut Farkas) is ecstatic to be joining the cast of A Christmas Story here at Cleveland Play House. He is a fifth grader in Akron, where he attends Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts. Most recently, Stanley appeared as Charlie Bucket in Weathervane Playhouse's production of Willie Wonka. His first appearance on stage was as Michael Banks in The Akron School for the Arts production of Mary Poppins. Since then, Stanley has appeared in productions at Magical Theatre Company, Weathervane Playhouse, Hudson Players, Akron's All-City Musical, and Porthouse Theater. Stanley studies voice and piano. He enjoys swimming and reading in his spare time.

LAURIEN PALMER (Esther Jane) is delighted to be making her debut with Cleveland Play House in A Christmas Story! Laurien has performed in the off-Broadway production, This Way to Broadway as a soloist and ensemble member, and in Destination Broadway. Local roles include Skate Girl, A Christmas Carol (Great Lakes Theater); Ensemble, Godspell (Near West Theater); Children's Choir, Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (Westlake PAC); Clara, The Nutcracker, The Musical (Bassett Elementary); and Charlie in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (Beck Center MTC). Laurien sings and dances with the Ensemble performance group. Laurien is a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, plays basketball, studies piano, dance, singing, and acting. Special thanks to Amy Hanratty of Voice Variations, for coaching and encouragement! Love to Mom, Dad, and Paul. Thank you for your love and support.

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 is honored and happy to return to Cleveland Play House with A Christmas Story. lauraperrottaford.com

BRYCE SHEPARD (u/s Ralphie, Flick, Schwartz, and Scut Farkas) is 11 years old and very excited to be making his debut with Cleveland Play House. Bryce, a sixth grader at Highland Middle School, first began performing when he was in first grade as part of the Sharon Elementary production of The Wizard of Oz. Since then he has been in three additional productions at Sharon performing as Mike Teavee in Willy Wonka, Rooster in Annie, and as the crazy hyena Banzai in The Lion King. Most recently, Bryce was part of the Summer Youth Musical Production of Alice in Wonderland that took place this past June. Bryce enjoys being a member of drama club and choir, as well as tennis and golf.

JAKE SPENCER (Flick) is thrilled to be returning to Cleveland Play House and to A Christmas Story in which he played Randy in 2014. He most recently appeared in Billy Elliot, the Musical at the Beck Center for the Arts as Small Boy. Jake is a fourth grader at Kenston Intermediate School. He is especially excited to be working with his little brother, and best friend, Samuel on this production. Jake likes dill pickles and puts hot sauce on everything.

SAMUEL SPENCER (u/s Randy) is a first grader at Timmons Elementary in Bainbridge, Ohio. He is new to acting but has been a theatre-goer since he was three years old, enjoying many plays around Northeast Ohio. He is thrilled to be working with Cleveland Play House and with his older brother Jake. Samuel enjoys wrestling, eating pizza, and art.

EASTON SUMLIN (Schwartz) is excited to make his Cleveland Play House debut with A Christmas Story. Easton is a sixth grader at Roxboro Middle School. He can most often be found singing, dancing, reading, building with Legos, creating comics, or recreating scenes from Hamilton with his sister. He was most recently seen as the Dauphin in Marie Antoinette at Dobama Theatre.

Jeff Talbott (Ralph) is thrilled to be ringing in the holidays again with his many friends in wonderful Cleveland. 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: 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, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater, among many others. He has also 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 play The Submission, won the Laurents/Hatcher Award and Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Award, was produced Off-Broadway by MCC Theater and has since been performed across the country. This winter, his new play, The Gravedigger's Lullaby, will have its world premiere off-Broadway at TACT. He writes musicals with composer Will Van Dyke. They have written Imagine Harry and Wintersong and are working on something new. They also released an EP of their songs called A View of the River (available on iTunes). Jeff is a member of TACT and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. jefftalbott.com


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.

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.

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: Robert Mark Morgan (Scenic Designer), David Kay MICKELSEN (Costume Designer), MICHAEL BOLL (Lighting Designer), JAMES C. SWONGER (Sound Designer) and WIGS AND WHISKERS (Wig Design). The Stage Manager for this production is JOHN GODBOUT and the Assistant Stage Manager is TOM HUMES.

Cleveland Play House, recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award and founded in 1915, 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 in 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.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. We also thank the residents of Cuyahoga County for supporting Cleveland Play House through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.


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