published Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Artistic Civic Theatre presents classic 'A Christmas Story'


• What: "A Christmas Story."

• When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30-Dec. 1; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2; 8 p.m. Dec. 6-8.

• Where: Artistic Civic Theatre, 907 Gaston St., Dalton, Ga.

• Admission: $15 adults, $13 seniors, $11 students.

• Phone: 706-278-4796.

• Website:

Yes, everyone's seen the movie, said director Tim Etheridge, but that's all the more reason to see the play.

"A Christmas Story," the 1983 motion picture in which young Ralphie is told he will shoot his eye out if he gets a genuine Red Ryder BB gun, is shown on television scores of times during the holidays.

But up close, said Etheridge, how would you depict the incident where Flick gets his tongue stuck on a pole? Or the slide in the department store? Or the classroom? Or the car?

The Artistic Civic Theatre in Dalton, Ga., will offer the funny, warm story Friday, Nov. 30, through Saturday, Dec. 8.

Etheridge said the story, set in Indiana in the 1940s, resonates today because authors Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark describe a "realistic family" who goes "through things most everybody does during the holidays -- the turkey, the tree, the gifts, the classic stress."

"We have it today," he said. "Everybody can identify with that. It doesn't matter whether you're a kid or an adult -- you can be daydreaming about that dream [present] you hope you get."

The story, based on the movie, follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his Christmastime pursuit of the longed-for BB gun despite the warnings of his mother, his teacher and even the Santa Claus at Goldblatt's Department Store.

Etheridge said it's been "a daunting task" to try to create all the settings in the story. To do so, the stage has been divided into half living room and half kitchen. Ralphie's bedroom is on an elevated platform. The classroom scene is one side of the stage.

"We're being as inventive as we can," he said. "We can't do 'A Christmas Story' without all of those scenes."

The play even includes a few things not as prominent in the movie such as two girl characters who are friends of Ralphie's.

"We're really excited about it," said Etheridge. "It's not really a kid show, but it's a show with kids."

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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