'A Christmas Story': Jeff Talbott

Jeff Talbott (Ralph) and Tommy Bilczo (Ralphie). Photo Credit: Roger Mastroianni.
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When it comes to Northeast Ohio and the holiday season, one local chestnut has long been the beloved comedy from 1983 - A Christmas Story - which was filmed in both Cleveland's Public Square and the Tremont neighborhood.

More recently at this time of year, the tale of young "Ralphie Parker" has stormed Playhouse Square, onstage at Cleveland Play House, bunny suit and Red Ryder BB-gun in tow.
If you're familiar with the story, you know it's the adult "Ralph" who serves as narrator for the play, A Christmas Story, - played at Cleveland Play House by actor Jeff Talbott.
ideastream's Jacqueline Gerber spoke with Talbott about playing the role of "Ralph" over several seasons and how he keeps it new year after year.

The thing that makes me approach it fresh is that every year we have a fresh crop of young performers in it.  There are seven children and four adults in the show.  Every year the seven kids are completely new and that changes the entire show because it's their story really.  I'm just their conduit [as narrator.]

Talbott explains how the famous film from 1983 sometimes proves difficult for the young actors to get past.

One of the things that happens for our young performers and the director is trying to encourage them to not do what is in the film.  I remember a couple of years ago one of the young performers had a very particular take on a line and the director could not understand why he was saying it that way.  We finally realized two or three weeks into rehearsal that's the way it's said in the film.  Once he got that he was able to help the young guy figure out how to say it a different way.  Because [the film] is iconic generationally even these kids who are between seven and ten years old watch that movie.

A Christmas Story is onstage at Cleveland Play House through Friday, December 23.


Jeff Talbott, actor

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