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Bensalem boy takes the Bristol Riverside stage in “A Christmas Story: The Play”


Rifling through a magical gift box of merry Christmas movies, fans often point to Tinseltown’s “A Christmas Story” as hitting a bull’s eye among holiday choices.

Since the funny fireplace flick came down the chimney in 1983, this timeless tale of a Red Ryder BB gun and Ralphie, the boy who triggers it as the one Christmas present he needs, has been the source of a series of sequels and a Broadway musical.

Now it’s a play that plays on its eternal message of family and friendship amid a frisson of frolic, that’s running from Nov. 28 to the end of the year at the Bristol Riverside Theatre.

Adapted from the movie by Philip Grecian, based on stories by Jean Shepherd, this Christmas treat is directed by Amy Kaissar, BRT’s producing director.

“I saw the movie last year, and really liked it,” says Tristan Monaghan, a kid with a vested interest in the “Christmas Story” storyline.

Tristan, 9, a fourth-grader at Belmont Hills Elementary School in Bensalem. He portrays Randy, a kvetch of a kid in the BRT production, not unwilling to give his older sibling, Ralphie, a brotherly shove now and then.

Tristan has his own family ties that bind at home in Bensalem: The son of Tim and Kristi has a younger brother, Jaxson.

When it came to casting, Randy ran into a veteran. Vintage whine? In a way: “I’ve played Randy before,” says Tristan of the part he portrayed previously at the Music Mountain Theatre — where he is a veteran performer— with a notable difference: That one was “A Christmas Story: The Musical.”

Randy in the key of ... kvetch? “I can be whiny, too,” he says.

What he can’t be is bored: “I am so excited,” says the preteen teeming with enthusiasm for being on stage at BRT, describing it as a lifetime dream.

Or is it? Not sure as he puzzles over the possibility of celebrating celebrity the rest of his life. “Maybe I’ll be a police officer. Or a detective; they’re options.”

But, ultimately, he concludes they all play supporting roles to what really rivets him in real life. “An actor. Definitely!”

What is also for sure is the support that shores up his ambition. That comes from his parents and “Miss Nancy,” one of his instructors at the Stepping Stone Dance Studio, just a stone’s throw from the stage he is about to step onto.

With Christmas — “my favorite holiday; Halloween is Number 2” — just a month away, Tristan concedes that the perfect gift is what you can give, not get. To that end, the youngster knows what he wants to accomplish before he ages into double digits:

“I want to accomplish giving kindness and respect to all my friends and family.”

Whiny? Nope. Winning? For sure.

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Michael Elkin is a playwright, theater critic and novelist who lives in Abington. He writes columns about theater and the arts.

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