SCRANTON — When your mom, your teacher and even a department store Santa say that toy you really, really want for Christmas is so dangerous you could “shoot your eye out,” what’s a kid to do?
As fans of the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story” know, young Ralphie doesn’t care.
He persists in believing his key to happiness is “a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock.”
Maybe that’s why the nostalgic holiday tale is so popular, said actor Chris Carsten, who will narrate the traveling, musical stage show version of “A Christmas Story” at the Scranton Cultural Center Nov. 17 to 19.
“When you recall your childhood, there’s that one gift you had to jump through hoops to get,” he said, remembering how, in his own life, “There was a camera I really wanted when I was a kid. It took some doing to get my parents on board. When I finally got one, it was a magical moment, just like in the show.”
The show, based on a memoir by author Jean Shepherd, “is so charming and so funny and so warm,” Carsten said. “It has tremendous heart. It’s uplifting and fun.”
Part of the humor of the story hinges on all those dire warnings Ralphie hears about eye safety, and the musical makes the most of it, Carsten said, explaining a big number centers on the “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” predictions.
Another musical number is built around the scene in which one of Ralphie’s friends gets his tongue stuck to a flagpole and another emphasizes Ralphie’s daydream about using the gun to defend his cowering family from dastardly bad guys.
“The music fits so well. It really gives the show an extra dimension,” said Carsten who, as narrator, provides the voice of the adult Jean Shepherd, looking back at a 1940s boyhood filled with pink-rabbit pajamas, noisy dogs next door, a leg-shaped lamp, and seemingly endless suppers of meatloaf and red cabbage.