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MXO ‘The Arts Unplugged’: Cleveland Play House Production of A Christmas Story Returns for 11th Year

5 December 2018 The Arts Unplugged No Comment

Cleveland Play House

Posted December 5th 2018

 

PHOTO CREDIT ROGER MASTROIANNI: (L-R) AUGUST SUMLIN (HELEN),  MATEO A. LLANOS CHURBY (SWARTZ), JAKE SPENCER (RALPHIE), TOMMY BILCZO (FLICK-UNDERSTUDY RALPHIE).

Everyone’s favorite characters from Cleveland Street are back for their 11th production with Cleveland Play House (CPH) during the 2018 holiday season. A Christmas Story will once again delight Cleveland audiences with the story you know and love, based on the original motion picture that was filmed in Cleveland. CPH’s production of A Christmas Storyhas quickly become an annual holiday tradition for families of all generations. Each year, these performances attract thousands of new guests to live theatre at Cleveland Play House. Previews begin November 23rd with press opening on November 30th at the Allen Theatre in Playhouse Square. This production will be sponsored by Dollar Bank and Pinecrest.

He’s back! One boy. One holiday wish. And a world that seems to be conspiring to make certain it doesn’t come true. The record-breaking show returns to the CPH stage in all its pink-bunny-suit, glowing-leg-lamp, triple-dog-daring glory. The perfect holiday treat for the entire family.

A Christmas Story is the entertaining stage production written by Philip Grecian and based on the motion picture written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, and Bob Clark. The story follows nine-year-old Ralphie Parker on his journey for the ultimate Christmas gift. A Christmas Story incorporates all of the most memorable elements from the movie, along with some exciting new scenes for the stage, with an incredible cast of local and national actors under the direction of John McCluggage.

A Christmas Story has been part of Cleveland’s holiday tradition for 11 years now, and we are so excited to welcome families back to Cleveland Play House,” says CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley. “Each year, we look forward to seeing familiar faces and many new faces, especially those of the young ones who may be experiencing theatre for the first time.”

Running Nov. 23 – Dec. 23 in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square, audience members are encouraged to arrive early to take advantage of another CPH holiday tradition: the Festival of Trees. The Festival of Trees is presented by the K&D Group, and is also generously sponsored by Dominion Energy.

A Christmas Story Cast

JAYSHON AUSTIN (Understudy: Flick, Schwartz, and Scut Farkas) is thrilled to be making his Cleveland Play House debut. He was previously seen as Curly in Peter Pan (Beachwood Community Theater) and as Santa in his school play, The Twelve Missing Days of Christmas. Jayshon takes acting classes throughout Northeast Ohio. Jayshon is in the eighth grade and attends Adlai Stevenson School, where he participates in their drama club. Jayshon is also a part of his school’s Safety Patrol and Winning Against Violent Environments (W.A.V.E.) Team. When he’s not in shows or doing auditions, he likes to listen to his favorite Broadway cast recordings: Once On This Island, Dear Evan Hansen, and Mean Girls. He would like to thank his uncle, brothers, and family for supporting him. Enjoy the show!

TOMMY BILCZO (Flick/Understudy: Ralphie) is ecstatic to be returning to A Christmas Story and to CPH, his home away from home. This is Tommy’s fifth Cleveland Play House production. Tommy’s CPH debut role was Ralphie in 2016’s A Christmas Story. After this, he performed on the CPH stages in Disney’s Freaky Friday (Fletcher u/s, performed), Shakespeare in Love (John Webster) and the CWRU/CPH MFA Class of 2018’s production of Macbeth (Fleance). Tommy has also been a member of the CPH Theatre Academy’s Musical Theatre Ensemble, performing as Sheldon/Herb in last spring’s production of Junie B. Jones, The Musical. Tommy has workshopped in NYC with the Broadway Artists Alliance and A Class Act NY. He has performed in many Cleveland area productions, and has been a featured soloist in a variety of local venues. Tommy would like to thank his family and friends for their never ending love and support. Enjoy the show! Visit tommybilczo.com.

MATEO A. LLANOS CHURBY (Schwartz) is thrilled and honored to make his debut at Cleveland Play House. Mateo began acting in seventh grade with Karamu House’s Youth Repertory Company. He has performed at Karamu House in Boundless Grace, a summer arts theatre production. Now in the eighth grade at Lake Ridge Academy, Mateo enjoyed an ensemble role in the school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. When Mateo is off stage, he is actively a member of the school’s choir, FIRST Lego League robotics team, and various sports teams. Mateo’s hobbies include fishing, model trains, volunteering, as well as traveling and spending quality time with family and friends both near and far.

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 credits include South Coast Repertory, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Pioneer Theatre, Actor’s Gang, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and A Noise Within. Television and Film credits include 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.

NATHAN HILL (Scut Farkus) is ecstatic to be making his Cleveland Play House debut. Nathan began acting in third grade with Fairmount Center for the Arts in Wizard of Oz. Now in eighth grade at Chagrin Falls Middle School, Nathan has most recently been seen as Oliver Twist in Oliver! at Medina County Show Biz Theatre. Other roles he has performed include Chip in Beauty and the Beast (Chagrin Valley Little Theatre), a featured performer in A Whole New World (Mercury Theatre Company), Peter Pan in Peter Pan (Fairmount Center of the Arts), Chad in High School Musical 2 (Chagrin Falls Community Ed Theatre), and a variety of Fairmount Center for the Arts productions. When he’s offstage, Nathan enjoys dirt bike riding, studies voice and dance, is a Boy Scout, plays trombone in the school band, and is a member of his school’s student council and speech and debate team.

MADELEINE MABY (Mother) is thrilled to be back at Cleveland Play House doing A Christmas Story! Favorite NY credits include Weekend at an English Country Estate and The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (The Ateh Theater Group); 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, Witness for the Prosecution, and The 39 Steps at The Barnstormers Theatre in New Hampshire. In addition to being a theater actor, Madeleine is also an award winning audiobook narrator.

AUDREY MORRISON (Esther Jane) is ecstatic to be making her Cleveland Play House debut! She is twelve years old and is in seventh grade. Audrey has most recently been seen as Narrator in Into the Woods Jr. at Olmsted Performing Arts. Her past credits include Periwinkle in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Baby Bear in Shrek the Musical, Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka Jr., Annie in Annie Jr., Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland Jr. (Olmsted Performing Arts); Salty Sal in Aargh!, Spiffy in Happily Forever After, and Nora in A Little Princess (Beck Center for the Arts). When Audrey is not on stage she enjoys taking ballet, voice lessons, singing in her school’s show choir, and baking.

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 last season as Mrs. van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank, and is honored and happy to return to Cleveland Play House with A Christmas Story. She has most recently appeared in Jane Eyre at Cleveland Musical Theater. lauraperrottaford.com

JAKE SPENCER (Ralphie) is honored to be returning to Cleveland Play House and his holiday home on “Cleveland Street,” with the cast and crew of A Christmas Story. He appeared as Ralphie in the production last year, and was previously seen as Flick and Randy. Jake is a sixth grader at Kenston Middle School and has been performing since age six. Theatre credits include Fleance in Macbeth (Great Lakes Theatre), Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird (Brecksville Theatre), and Michael Banks in Mary Poppins (Geauga Lyric Theatre). Film credits include The Autumn Prince, which was selected for the 2018 Cleveland International Film Festival. Jake has received training through CPH Theatre Academy and Chagrin Valley Little Theatre. He is proud to be sharing the stage with his real-life brother Sam. In his free time, Jake likes playing video games, shoe shopping and testing out hot sauces.

SAM SPENCER (Randy) is thrilled to reprise his role as Randy at Cleveland Play House. He got to know the character as understudy in 2016, and made his Randy stage debut last season. Other credits include: Ensemble in Gypsy (Beck Center for the Arts), Ensemble in The Music Man in Concert (Cain Park), and Arthur in Princess Diana the Musical (Geauga Lyric Theatre). Sam has trained with CPH Theatre Academy and Chagrin Valley Little Theatre. He is happy to be playing little-brother to his real-life big-brother, Jake. Sam is a third grader at Timmons Elementary in Bainbridge, Ohio, and likes wrestling, Legos, video games and food.

ELLA STEC (Understudy: Helen and Esther Jane) is extremely delighted to be a part of the A Christmas Story cast! She recently performed in Cinder-Ella (Ella) at Beck Center. Other favorite theatre credits include Aunt Leaf (Annabelle) at Cleveland Play House’s Theatre Academy, Gypsy (Children’s Ensemble) at Beck Center, Annie (Orphan Kate) at Aurora Community Theatre, To Kill A Mockingbird (Scout) at Weathervane Playhouse, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Windward, Ensemble) at Weathervane Playhouse. Ella, age 11, is also a member of Ohio’s All-State Children’s Chorus. Ella thanks Mr. McCluggage for giving her the opportunity to be a part of this production, a family favorite and one that is on her performing wish list! A special shout out to her very own supporting cast of family and friends who love her on stage and off! Love ya right back!

AUGUST SUMLIN (Helen) is ecstatic to return to CPH in A Christmas Story. She was last seen as Mary in Minton’s Place during New Ground Theatre Festival in the spring of 2018. Favorite roles include: Storyteller in Children of Eden (French Creek), Reporter in James and the Giant Peach (Heights Youth Theatre), Lillian in The Music Man (Cain Park), Child in I Spy (Dobama Theatre), Lead Spy Carrot in Veggie Mayhem (Dobama Theatre), and Mally in Trouble for Four (Dobama Theatre). August has been taking ballet for six years and she loves to write original songs on the piano, sing, and read. She enjoys all things pink. August loves spending time with babies and wants to be an obstetrician when she’s older.

JEFF TALBOTT (Ralph) is so happy to be ringing in the holidays with his many friends in the CLE. 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 two most recent: Oslo and George Brant’s wonderful Into the Breeches!; 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) which was produced Off-Broadway by 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

MACON TAYLOR (Understudy: Randy) is ten years old and a fourth grader from Independence. He is happy to be making his debut with Cleveland Play House and working with such a wonderful director, cast and crew. Favorite previous roles include: Michael Banks, Mary Poppins (Near West Theatre); Children of Eden, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (French Creek Theatre); Sirrah, Macbeth (Ohio Shakespeare Festival); Tiny Tim/Master William, A Christmas Carol (Great Lakes Theater); Alice in Wonderland, BIG The Musical, A Little Princess, Oliver! (Beck Center for the Arts). He is a proud Cub Scout (Webelo) with Pack 68 in Lakewood. When not performing, Macon loves playing with his Hot Wheels cars and Minecraft. Many thanks to Mom and Dad, family, friends and teachers for their love and support.

A Christmas Story Creative Team

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), WIGS & WHISKERS (Wig Design), The Stage Manager for this production is JOHN GODBOUT, and Assistant Stage Manager TOM HUMES.

Ticket Information

A Christmas Story will take place in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square from November 23-December 23, 2018. Tickets range in price from $25-$97 each, $12 rush tickets for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid student ID, and Young Professional discounts available with YP-CPH Membership. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com. Groups of 10+ save up to 50% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

Subscriptions: Subscribers save up to 25%. Flexible season packages available. To purchase subscriptions or get more information, call 216-400-7096 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com

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 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. www.clevelandplayhouse.com

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.

 

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