Ralphie hits the stage

Peter Billingsley

Instead of getting shot in the eye, Peter Billingsley is calling the shots. The 41-year-old actor and director — who portrayed the bespectacled Ralphie in 1983′s “A Christmas Story” — is now producing the film’s adaptation on Broadway. This is the fourth year the show has run, the third year that Billingsley has been involved, and the first year it has appeared on Broadway. He explains why Ralphie was the perfect character for the stage and which scenes were most fun to re-create.



You had been approached about adapting “A Christmas Story” before, but you said you were never interested. Why was this the right opportunity?


I knew that there had been some notions of doing either sequels or remakes. I thought it was a really bad idea — why would you remake a great movie? But to do an adaptation to a new format that allows you to go to places that the film couldn’t because of [format restrictions]; that was exciting. And the notion of a musical was particularly exciting because this film has sort of an eccentric tone to it. There are a lot of fantasy sequences. Ralphie’s a dreamer. It was the perfect character for musical theater.



Were there any scenes you were particularly excited to bring to the stage?


“Ralphie to the Rescue” is a fun classroom fantasy which is similar to the one when the robbers come over the fence and he’s protecting his family — it’s that little cowboy moment in the movie, but we turn it into a major Western hoedown. I think that’s why audiences like it, because they don’t feel that it betrays the movie. You owe them a flagpole scene. You owe them a turkey. You owe them a Chinese restaurant. They want to see those scenes because that’s what in the film.



Did you have any concerns about adapting the film?


I’m very protective [of the material], so I think that there was a lot of stuff that I wanted to make sure stayed true to the movie. I knew Bob Clark very well — he directed the movie — so I always felt that I had a lot of insight into it and what the filmmakers had wanted.  The one thing I was concerned about was I didn’t want audiences to feel like, oh, here’s just a retread off a successful movie.



The kids in the show are all so talented. As a former child actor, did you give them any showbiz advice?


I always tell them enjoy it, because if it’s not enjoyed there’s no point in doing it. … Gosh, when I was kid doing commercials it was a very different business. I was before Macaulay Culkin. There was kids prices. He was the first kid to get adult prices. Now, these Disney Channel kids are making more than the adults are. I think that puts an awful lot of pressure on at a very young age.



Do you still have your BB gun?


I do. It’s probably very valuable, I guess. I keep some of my memorabilia at a climate-controlled storage facility. The bunny suit is there as well.



Do you still watch the film when it comes on TV?


You know, I have studied the film just over the last few years in relation to the musical, but it’s more fast-forwarding to scenes and kind reminding myself of certain things. It’s kind of a point of analysis now. [Laughs] But invariably on Christmas [my family] will turn it on and I’ll stop and watch it and kind of enjoy it. … I’m pretty familiar with it at this point.

If you go

Peter Billingsley co-produced “A Christmas Story, The Musical,” playing through Dec. 30 at the Lunt-Fontanne  Theatre (205 W. 46th St.). For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit www.achristmas

storythemusical.com.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Train selfie star who got kicked in the…

  A 22-year-old Canadian man who posted a video of himself getting kicked in the head by a train conductor is set to cash in…

National

Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…

National

Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…

National

American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…

The Word

Lupita Nyong'o is People's Most Beautiful

Congratulations to Lupita Nyong'o, officially the most beautiful human on the face of planet Earth (2014 season).

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

NBA

Nets settle for 1-1 series tie with Game…

DeMar DeRozan, who was an All-Star this season, hit two huge jumpers back-to-back to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead over the Nets with 2:10 to play.

NHL

Rangers reclaim home ice with Game 3 road…

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period for the second straight game. This time, they held on.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Jason Kidd reacts to Mike Woodson being fired…

Jason Kidd played for Mike Woodson last year and Joe Johnson spent four seasons being the main focus on offense for Woodson in Atlanta.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.