Complete with Double-Dog Dares, a Red Ryder BB Gun, & the Lamppost Experiment


November 15, 2005, Buffalo, NY – This holiday season Studio Arena Theatre brings a family favorite to the stage when it presents A CHRISTMAS STORY. Previews begin Friday, Nov. 25, 2005 and the play runs through Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005. Opening/Media night is Friday, Dec. 2, 2005 at 8:00 p.m. at Studio Arena Theatre.


A CHRISTMAS STORY, written by Philip Grecian, is based on the 1983 film A Christmas Story, written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark, and In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd. The Studio Arena production is directed by John McCluggage. In this nostalgic family favorite, nine-year-old Ralphie’s quest for a Red Ryder BB gun gets repeatedly thwarted by warnings of, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” The stage version comes complete with an exploding furnace, a gaudy leg lamp and the ill-fated lamppost experiment based on the sinister “triple-dog dare.”


“A CHRISTMAS STORY – the movie – is a treasured holiday tradition for many families,” said

Studio Arena Theatre Executive Director Ken Neufeld. “We’re happy to say that the play holds true to the movie, with all the familiar scenes.”


A CHRISTMAS STORY features three adult actors and eight local child actors:


Michael Heintzman, who plays The Old Man, has appeared Off-Broadway in NEDDY at American Place Theatre, A CUP OF COFFEE at Soho Repertory Theatre, and EPIC PROPORTIONS and BEST HALF FOOT FORWARD at Manhattan Punchline. Regional theatre credits include Arena Stage, Jungle Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, New Playwrights Theatre, Pioneer Theatre Company, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Capital Repertory Theatre and Syracuse Stage. Michael co-authored SEPARATING THE MEN FROM THE BULL, produced at Minneapolis’ Jungle Theater in 2003 and is a four-time playwriting finalist for the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. One of those plays, HELEN OF PEEKSKILL will be a film for


Dan Hiatt, who plays Adult Ralph, most recently appeared as Newman Noggs in The California Shakespeare Theatre’s production of THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. Other credits include ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, THE MATCHMAKER and


THE CHERRY ORCHARD at The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco; DINNER WITH

FRIENDS and MENOCCHIO at Berkeley Repertory Theatre; ENCHANTED APRIL and A FLEA IN HER EAR at San Jose Repertory Theatre; and six seasons at The California Shakespeare Theatre. Regional theatre credits include performances at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, The Huntington Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Ford’s Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Stage West in Mississauga, Ontario.


Deirdre Madigan, who plays The Mother/Miss Shields, has appeared on Broadway in AFTER THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC, and in Off-Broadway productions of BARBRA’S WEDDING, MAJOR CRIMES and JIGSAWS. Regional credits include LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART and TANGENTS (George Street Playhouse), MARY STUART, SPINNING INTO BUTTER and BETTY’S SUMMER VACATION (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), DINNER WITH FRIENDS (Pioneer Theatre Company), GUNSHY (Merrimack Theatre Company), SCOTLAND ROAD and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Rep. Theatre of St Louis), SKYLIGHT and THE DINING ROOM (Stamford Theatre Works). She also appeared in the national tour of A FEW GOOD MEN and on such television programs as LAW & ORDER, LAW & ORDER C.I., ONE LIFE TO LIVE and AS THE WORLD TURNS.


Patrick McEnchrow White, who plays Ralphie Parker, most recently appeared as the Urchin in the world premiere production of Bryan Delaney’s THE COBBLER at the Irish Classical Theatre. Last year he played Ollie Herdman in THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER at the Theatre of Youth. Patrick has also played a number of roles with The Towne Players and the St. Stephen Parish Players. Patrick is a seventh grader at St. Stephen School on Grand Island and he is twelve-years-old. This is his first time performing at Studio Arena Theatre. White is a former student of the Studio Arena Theatre School.


Hayley M. Davis who plays Esther Jane Alberry, is a making her Studio Arena Theatre stage debut. Currently a student of Studio Arena Theatre School, Davis’ first professional job was appearing on the Fisher-Price Puffalump Dolly box when she was six years old. A high honors seventh grade student at Amherst Middle School, Davis has performed jingle vocals and multimedia voiceovers for Mattel and Entercom Radio Group. She was a Junior Buffalo Jill and can be seen in Cappellino’s Towne Buick television commercials. Davis is a pianist and also performs in the Wizard family magic shows.


Cory Franklin Grzechowiak, who is the understudy for Ralphie Parker, was last seen in THE WIZARD OF OZ, staged by the West Seneca Youth Theater Group. Grzechowiak is twelve years old and in the seventh grade at West Seneca East Middle School. A drummer and percussionist, Cory enjoys performing in the school band and jazz ensemble. Grzechowiak’s aspirations of becoming a professional actor were evident, even at age four, when he was affectionately known as “Travolta” at his daycare.


Griffin Kramer, who plays Scut Farkus, has appeared in school productions at Amherst and Iroquois and has played Claude Herdman for two years in the Theatre of Youth’s production of THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER. Kramer is eleven-years-old and is a seventh grade student at Amherst Middle School, where he is student council vice president and on the honor roll. He has received First Class Honors in grade seven piano from the Toronto Conservatory of Music and plays the violin.


Tyler Austin Stoddard, who plays Flick, is making his stage debut in this production of A CHRISTMAS STORY. Eleven-year-old Stoddard enjoys this timeless story and he hopes to bring as much laughter to audiences as the story has given to him. He is in sixth grade at Akron Middle School.


Marisol Torres, who plays Helen Weathers, was recently seen in the role of Rosalinda in A MOTHER’S JOURNEY, produced by Antecesores as part of its youth program, Nuestras Raíces. She is thirteen years

old and attends Oracle Charter School. She enjoys dancing, art and writing. Torres hopes that this new experience in A CHRISTMAS STORY will lead to other opportunities as she hopes to become an actress.


Stephen A. Tyrpak, who plays Schwartz, developed his acting skills at the Studio Arena Theatre School during the summers of 2004 and 2005. He has performed in school plays at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, where he is an eighth grade student. Thirteen-year-old Tyrpak enjoys playing the drums, golfing and swimming.


Max Wojtasik, playing the part of Randy, is excited to be making his acting debut with Studio Arena Theatre. His penchant for entertaining his family and schoolmates with one-man comedic presentations led him to the Studio Arena Theatre School in the summer of 2005. Wojtasik is a fourth grader at Early Childhood Center #54 in Buffalo.


About the Creative Team:


John McCluggage, director, has been the Associate Artistic Director of the San Jose Repertory Theatre since 1989, where he has directed more than twenty shows including ENCHANTED APRIL, HUMPTY DUMPTY, A FLEA IN HER EAR, OLD WICKED SONGS, COMMUNICATING DOORS and OVER THE TAVERN. In 1992, he founded, and continues to direct, the Rep’s unique Red Ladder Theatre Company, which has grown into an award-winning, nationally-recognized community outreach program that is a model of its kind. In 2001, he was named a semifinalist for the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award.


Philip Grecian, playwright, is familiar with bringing holiday classics to the stage. His adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL has become an annual tradition in many communities around the United States. The script of his radio adaptation of DRACULA (produced and syndicated in the 1970s) has found new life as a stage production, complete with an onstage sound effects crew. Several of Grecian's plays have been published including his widely popular THE VELVETEEN RABBIT (Dramatic Publishing). THE DRAGON OF NITT (also Dramatic Pub­lishing) and LION AND THE LYRE have been translated and performed in Russia. Grecian had a young start. At 16, he was founding director for Act One, a city-funded commu­nity theatre, later named The Helen Hocker Theatre. Two years later he was asked, without audition, to be a part of the Creede Colorado Repertory Theatre, where he spent a season acting and writing. He continues to maintain a connection with Creede Repertory, where his plays have been produced and where he returns as a guest performer. After touring the Midwest as Androcles in ANDROCLES AND THE LION, he returned to the community theatre he had founded. He remained there as artistic/managing director and resident playwright for six years, resigning to cre­ate a professional dinner theatre, serving as producer and artistic director. After es­tablishing a strong financial base for the new theatre, he left to work as a writer/director in film, video and audio production. In 1994 he became the found­ing director/playwright for a theatre company which mounts an annual production of his adaptation of IN HIS STEPS, based upon Charles Sheldon's best-selling turn-of-the-century novel.


Jean Shepherd was a writer, humorist, satirist, actor, radio raconteur and tele­vision and film personality. A master storyteller, he took bits and pieces from his own life to weave tales of the joy, humor, intrigue and angst of growing up. His youth in Hammond, Indiana, his adventures in the Army Signal Corps and stories of the obscure and infamous were all fertile sources for his tales. For almost three decades, he told these stories to eager radio audiences, in Cincinnati from 1950 to 1954 and on WOR in New York from 1956 to 1977. His other radio enterprise was live broadcasts on Saturday night from The Limelight, a nightclub in Green­wich Village. Shepherd began his entertainment career in Chicago as a performer at the

Goodman Theatre. He did nightclub acts on Rush Street, appeared on Broadway in Leonard Sillman's revue, NEW FACES (1962) and in VOICE OF THE TURTLE, and played a dance instructor in the film THE LIGHT FANTASTIC (1963). He was also a sportscaster and did baseball broadcasts for the Toledo Mudhens and Armed Forces Radio. In the seventies, he took his talents to television in a series of

humorous narratives for PBS called JEAN SHEPHERD’S AMERICA, later contin­ued on the PBS New Jersey Network as SHEPHERD’S PIE. Here he was able to show us the more offbeat aspects of America, particularly his own home state, which he loved to ridicule. This led to a series of teleplays for PBS/WGBH's American Playhouse: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN HEARTH, THE GREAT AMERICAN FOURTH OF JULY AND OTHER DISASTERS, OLLIE HOPNOODLE’S HAVEN OF BLISS and THE STAR-CROSSED ROMANCE OF JOSEPHINE COSNOWSKI. His most popular and well-known work is the film A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) which he co-wrote and nar­rated. In 1994, he did a sequel, MY SUMMER STORY (aka IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY). Shep­herd wrote articles for several magazines, including Playboy and Omni, and was an early contributor to The Village Voice, most notably in his Night People col­umn. His books include THE AMERICA OF GEORGE ADE; IN GOD WE TRUST, ALL OTHERS PAY CASH; WANDA HICKEY’S NIGHT OF GOLDEN MEMORIES AND OTHER DISASTERS; THE FERRARI IN THE BEDROOM and A FISTFUL OF FIG NEWTONS. Shepherd passed away on October l6, 1999, at the age of 78.


The creative team also includes Robert Mark Morgan, scenic designer, Deborah L. Shippee, costume designer; Lap-Chi Chu, lighting designer; Chester Popiolkowski, sound designer; and

Charles K. Bayang, stage manager.


This production is sponsored by Independent Health, Merchants Insurance Group, and Star 102.5 FM. Tickets are on sale now and range from $25- $57. To purchase tickets, call the Studio Arena box office at 716-856-5650 or 1-800-77STAGE. KeyBank Family Paks are available for A CHRISTMAS STORY, and include discounted tickets and parking passes. A family of two adults and two children ages 13 and under can attend the holiday favorite for as little as $81 with a KeyBank Family Pak. Additional information about the season can be found at



















PLAYWRIGHT:                 Philip Grecian

Play based upon the film, A Christmas Story, written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, & Bob Clark and In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd

DIRECTOR:                                         John McCluggage

DESIGNERS:                                       Robert Mark Morgan (Scenic Designer)

                                                                Lap-Chi Chu (Lighting Designer)

                                                                Deborah L. Shippee (Costume Designer)

                                                                Chester Popiolkowski (Sound Designer)

                                                                Charles K. Bayang (Production Stage Manager)


CHARACTERS:                  CAST:

Esther Jane Alberry                            Hayley M. Davis

Ralphie Parker (understudy)           Cory Franklin Grzechowiak

The Old Man                                        Michael Heintzman

Ralph                                                     Dan Hiatt

Scut Farkus                                          Griffin Kramer

The Mother                                           Deirdre Madigan

Flick                                                      Tyler Austin Stoddard

Helen Weathers                                    Marisol Torres

Schartz                                                  Stephen A. Tyrpak

Ralphie Parker                                    Patrick McEnchrow White



PREVIEWS:                                         Friday, Nov. 25, 8:00 p.m.                                   

                                                                Saturday, Nov. 26, 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 27, 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 1, 8:00 p.m.

OPENING / MEDIA NIGHT:             Friday, Dec. 2, 8:00 p.m.                     

CLOSING:                                            Thursday, Dec. 29, 8:00 p.m.

NO PERFORMANCES:                     All Mondays

PERFORMANCE TIMES: Sundays 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Tuesdays 7:00 p.m.

                                                                Wednesdays 7:30 p.m.

                                                                Thursdays 8:00 p.m. (Nov. 10, 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.)

                                                                Fridays 8:00 p.m.

Saturdays 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

PREVIEW TICKET PRICES:                            $25 - $39

REGULAR TICKET PRICES:                           $32 - $57

TICKET OFFICE HOURS:                                Noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays. 

Open from noon to final show time all other days.

TICKET PHONE NUMBER:                              716-856-5650 or 1-800-77STAGE



EDUCATION DEPARTMENT EVENTS sponsored by Bank of America

TALK BACK TUESDAYS:                                Stay seated for a post performance discussion between the actors and audience every Tuesday after opening.

PREFLECTIONS:                                               Before every show. Arrive 50 minutes prior to your production for a pre-show discussion designed to enhance your theatre experience.