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Evergreen Theater presents ‘A Christmas Story’

By Janelle Fisher
City Pages Editor

Actors of all ages will take to the stage this weekend in Evergreen Theater’s production of A Christmas Story.

Production Manager Adam Elmergreen said those who come to see the show will likely recognize much of the storyline from the 1983 movie.

“It’s just kind of the classic tale that everyone’s familiar with,” he said. “Just a little boy wanting his Red Ryder BB gun and the struggles he goes through with his parents, his teachers and his classmates and even Santa himself to be able to get that gift.”

Being familiar with the story, Elmergreen said, is all the more reason to come see the show.

“The people that are gonna come to see the play, they’re gonna be very familiar with the story,” he said.”I think that’s gonna drive a little bit of excitement for it but I think what they’re going to be most excited about is to see some of their classic scenes replayed for them in a different fashion.”

For fans of the Christmastime classic, Elmergreen said there are plenty of extra details and scenes in the play that make it a worthwhile show to attend.

“One thing about the play is it gives you a little bit of a deeper dive into the actual story than the movie does,” he said. “So you actually get to see the back-end of things that were not fully explained in the movie itself. You get to see a little bit more love and romance between Ralphie and one of his classmates. You get to see a little bit more in-depth as to why that bully is a bully and different things like that — little Easter eggs. If you’re familiar with the movie, you’re going to get the complete picture from the play.”

Elmergreen’s personal favorite scene, he said, is a dream sequence involving Ralphie.

“There’s a dream sequence where a bunch of robbers come and try to take down Ralphie’s family. And [Ralphie] jumps up on the kitchen table and he starts taking them out with his Red Ryder BB gun,” he said. “And the little guy that we got to play Ralphie, he’s a dancer. He can break dance and climb up anything. The kid knows how to move — and move appropriately, So he’s jumping off the table, rolling on the ground, doing somersaults here and there… He’s just flipping around everywhere. It’s a little bit different every night and it makes it really entertaining.”

Elmergreen said the best part of the show, though, is seeing how the cast has come together.

“The cast has just been brilliant,” he said. “They’re working perfectly together. The adults and children work in sync with one another. Many of the adults are veterans within the local theater community and they do a lot of work in regards to helping the children develop and making sure that they understand every aspect of theater and getting them ready for their performance.”

Evergreen Theater
Evergreen Theater is a multi-generational theater program, meaning adults and kids have the opportunity to work together and help each other develop their theater skills. Submitted photos

That fostering of a love of theater is not unique to just this show, though, according to Elmergreen.

“Evergreen Theater does an amazing job of developing children specifically for theater,” he said. “They teach them through classes that all the children can go through where they learn how to sew costumes and put together set pieces. They learn fight coordination. They learn all the technical sides of it from lighting to construction, so they really involve them in regards to just understanding every aspect of theater.”

And that methodology has worked well for Evergreen Theater, as Elmergreen said several individuals who went through the program as children continue to be involved in theater later in life.

“We have a lot of children that have gone on to do professional theater,” he said. “We have a lot of kids that are working at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. We have some in California and we have some in New York.”

In this production of A Christmas Story, Elmergreen said one cast member has returned to Evergreen Theater after performing on the East coast.

“The actress who is playing Miss Shields in this, she started as a child actor with Evergreen,” he said. “She just returned for a brief break to visit her family during the holidays, but she’s been studying out in New York and doing off-broadway shows.”

In addition to cast members, Elmergreen said volunteers play a vital role in making sure that the show goes on.

“We have quite a few volunteers with the shows,” he said. “We probably have more than 20 volunteers working on orchestrating the show and making sure everything is moving ahead with it each night. And we have a lot of new talent working on this show — we have a new stage manager who is pretty much in charge of the show once it arrives at the theater.”

Elmergreen said the volunteers who work with Evergreen Theater help to strengthen the theater community in Green Bay and beyond.

“It’s just really cultivating that talent and really developing it as best as we can to service the community,” he said. “A lot of these people go on to do shows in Appleton or in the Fox Valley. A lot of them do shows up in Door County during the summertime. They’re pretty much all over the local communities surrounding the area. It’s whatever we can do as an organization to be able to cultivate that. It’s really Evergreen’s overall mission.

Elmergreen said northeast Wisconsin, in particular, has a thriving, supportive theater community which Evergreen has the pleasure of being a part of.

“There’s actually quite a few theater companies in Green Bay,” he said. “All of them specialize a little bit differently… But what is nice about them is all of them will come together every year to put on a production, typically in the summertime, to unify all the theater companies that are in the area. Evergreen has been around for quite a while — a little over 50 years — and has a good assortment of costumes and props and everything, so all the local theaters really utilize Evergreen for a lot of different things and we’re able to support them. But we also all share each other’s information and we all promote each other’s shows. We really try to keep everything unified within the community. It’s not so much competition as it is just really getting the community involved and hopefully people will volunteer and come out to audition and just really experience what theater is about.”

Come see the show:
Performances of A Christmas Story will take place at Webb Theatre Dec. 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 11 and 18 at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at snc.edu/tickets or at evergreentheater.org.

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