Doug Shanaberger

Column Doug Shanaberger

Doug Shanaberger is an entertainment columnist for the Observer-Reporter.

‘A Christmas Story’ lights up stage at Little Lake

Little Lake takes aim at ‘Christmas Story’

December 4, 2012

“I love all my children,” said director Sunny Disney Fitchett, who wasn’t referring to the daytime soap that made Erica Kane’s multiple marriages fodder for a drinking game. ’Tis the season for happier thoughts.

We were talking about the talented kids who appeared in the four productions of “A Christmas Story” at Little Lake Theatre, the years for that holiday classic being 2004, 2005, 2008 and this year. The play, always a crowd pleaser, returned last weekend for a run that ends Dec. 15.

As for the “Christmas Story” alumni, most aren’t kids anymore. They’ve grown up.

Sam Karas, who played the BB gun-obsessed Ralphie Parker seven and eight years ago, “is about to graduate from college,” said Fitchett, a protective “mama bear” who doesn’t have favorites among the group. Once a child treads the boards at Little Lake, he or she has a place in her heart forever.

That said, the director is especially delighted with 9-year-old Dominic Raymond as the young Ralphie for several reasons, including his noticeable resemblance to Greg Caridi as the older Ralphie. Visit to have a look at photos in the “On Stage” section. You’ll see a “mini me” when you compare Dominic to Greg.

Also in the cast of Little Lake’s swan song for the 64th season are Bracken Burns, Leah Hillgrove, Alden Robert Light, James Curry, Liam Carse, Katherine Kovac, Shannon Curry, Nicolas Staso and Renee Ruzzi-Kern.

For reservations, call 724-745-6300. And call soon. Several performances are sold out.

Nicely nostalgic

In Hickory, the Old Schoolhouse Players are preparing to celebrate “Christmas the Way it Was.”

That’s the title Cindy Berg gave to the musical she spent a good part of the year writing for the company. It opens Friday night at the Mt. Pleasant Township Community Center and features 29 actors, many who’ve been with OSP since the group’s early days.

Among the troupers you’ll recognize: Bob Anderson, Jesse Warnick, Debbie Descutner, Joyce Miller, Jackie Fox, Norm Wash, Bob Scott, Dan Casciato, Marc Muzopappa, Sandy Muzopappa, Betheny Kohl-Peternel, Carole Turk, Kathy Leadbitter, Sara Hinerman, Terry Westwood, Janet Okarma and, in a rare appearance, Marilyn McClain, OSP’s indispensable den mother, grande dame, merry matriarch, etc.

Berg directs, Scott produces, Turk takes care of the costumes and Ruth Ann Fox serves as musical director.

For reservations, call 724-344-7467.

Holiday sisters

At the Crowne Plaza Cabaret Dinner Theatre in Bethel Park, producers Jude and Shirley Pohl are toasting the season with their popular farce, “A Funny Nunny Christmas.” It’s an old favorite.

Or is it?

Jude mentioned last week that the script has been a work in progress for years, with fresh material added for each revival.

The cast changes, too.

This year, Angela Kemena, Stacey Rosleck, Anita Spano and Katie Zemaitis star in “A Funny Nunny Christmas,” which continues through Dec. 15.

For reservations, call 724-746-1178. And ask for details about the Christmas buffet served before the show.

Something extra

Only in one sense will “The Speed Queen,” opening tomorrow night at Off the Wall Theater in Carnegie, remind you of Christmas.

The play was added to the calendar as an extra, bringing the number of productions for the season up to five instead of the usual four. So while it’s not a freebie, it does have a gift-like quality.

Running for just three nights, the play stars Anne Stockton as a convicted murderer who spends her last hours on Death Row answering a writer’s questions about her life and the crimes she committed.

Stockton also wrote the script, an adaptation of Stewart O’Nan’s novel.

O’Nan will attend the opening-night reception at Off the Wall, as will celebrated Broadway director Austin Pendleton, who guided “The Speed Queen” five years ago when it opened at the Midtown International Theater Festival in New York.

For reservations, call 888-718-4253.



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