Although "A Christmas Story" airs in a 24-hour marathon on TBS for Christmas Day, the story will really come to life starting Friday when the stage production opens at Stars Theatre Restaurant.

Feeling the "Christmas" spirit, director Sheryl Cleveland said she was on board from day one.

She wrote in an email, "Who wouldn't want to help bring to life an iconic movie that not only is full of wonderful new music and dance, but also celebrates the theme of the Christmas season — love and family!"

Cleveland said movie fans will have plenty to enjoy, Cleveland said, including all the iconic scenes: the bunny suit, leg lamp "major award," Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle, Flick and the frozen flagpole, Randy stuffed in his snowsuit and more.

"The script is almost verbatim to the movie. The new and wonderful addition is that many iconic lines are now put to music."

Vocal director Char Gaines knows all about that music — and the challenges it posed for the cast. Gaines said she had to make sure her actors articulate "over the top in order for the lines to come through to the audience members."

"The music is full of difficult musical lines and has required much study in order to get them right," she wrote in an email. "The cast has worked hard to get the music correct while having to perform dance moves and incredible costume changes and set changes."

Cleveland said she's impressed by the children in the cast — including Braxton Briscoe as the beleaguered Ralphie and Brandon Antongiovanni as his kid brother, Randy — and the kid chorus, which "lights up the stage every time they enter."

"We have also tried to create a stage environment that looks like the movie, including a 'mountain' that Santa sits atop with a slide that kiddos travel after talking to the man in red," Cleveland wrote. "Some of my favorite songs include 'When You're a Wimp' sung by the kids and 'Major Award' complete with dancing lamps to celebrate the Dad's winning of a crossword puzzle contest."

Gaines applauds the show as a "team effort" with performers each facing musical challenges and "the heart of the show" Bob Anderson who plays the narrator, Jean.

"Our cast is great," she wrote. There are a cast of kids and an ensemble who are very energetic. It's been quite an adventure. Audience members will truly get into the Christmas spirit after watching this show."

Even the menu has a holiday theme with entrees including prime rib, roasted turkey and vegetable quiche, a slightly less festive but safely vegetarian option. Stars Lounge will also offer its new menu prior to performances (5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 2 p.m. Sundays). And bartender Sonia Mata developed "Christmas"-themed cocktails: The Major Award (apple cider Old-Fashioned), Ralphie to the Rescue (warm apple cider with (or without) spiced rum), A Christmas-Tini (White Russian martini with peppermint schnapps and candy cane rim), Pink Bunny Suit shot (white chocolate liqueur, vodka and strawberry syrup).

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.

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