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Two Actors Playing Opposite Real-Life Spouses In 'A Christmas Story: The Musical'

Seattle actors Jessica Skerritt and Dane Stokinger have played opposite one another before. There was the time last year in Arizona, when they were in a production of “Xanadu, the Musical.” He played some roller-skating guy and she played some sort of Greek goddess.

They actually met in a production at Village Theater; he played Elvis and she his girlfriend. But for the first time, the two are playing what they are in real life: husband and wife.

Stokinger plays the "old man” and Skerritt plays "mother" in The 5th Avenue’s production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” Other than missing out on time spent with their 9-month-old, they’re having a ball in a pair of roles based on a classic holiday movie. That would be “A Christmas Story,” which is set in the 1940s in Indiana and a boy named Ralphie really, really wants a very specific type of toy.

http://youtu.be/ppOXpyhM2wA

Stokinger has watched the movie, and has loved it for years. But when the story was adapted for the stage (premiering at The 5th in 2010), the idea made him a little nervous.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh, another musical written about a movie. Oh, cool — not.' And then I was just blown away,” he said.

The couple saw the musical in 2010 and loved the simplicity and the nostalgia of the story.

“It’s the way I remember my childhood,” said Stokinger, who is too young to have lived through the ‘40s but  still found universality in a tale about that one special Christmas toy.

“This one toy is the end all for this kid, and [the story is] whether or not this family is going to make ends meet to fulfill that Christmas wish,” said Skerritt, who remembers being in the audience and watching the musical and getting “punched in the gut” emotionally. The ending gets her every time.

As “mother,” Skerritt fixes meatloaf for her family and fusses over her youngest son who refuses to eat. She worries that Ralphie will end up shooting his eye out if he gets that toy gun, and just tries to make sure everything is perfect for this year’s Christmas.

As the "old man,” Stokinger wrestles with crossword puzzles, curses at an ornery furnace, gets chased by (live!) bloodhounds and goes absolutely happily bonkers when he wins a lamp in the shape of a leg.

But then there’s that one part in the show.

“There’s the moment each night when we say, ‘Good night’ to the two boys and we’re up in the set. And Jess and I leave, and Kurt (Beattie, who is the show’s on-stage narrator) starts his final monologue,” Stokinger said.“And every night, Jess is wiping away little tears.”

menorah_2.jpg
Credit Aaron Shanks via The 5th Avenue Theatre
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On the first day of Hannukah, some of the children in "A Christmas Story: The Musical" celebrated backstage with a "leg lamp" menorah.

Added Skerritt: “For all the comedy and shenanigans, the show how you just earn this really beautiful, lovely, touching scene at the end.”  

The couple “celebrates” Christmas in every show, which means some 40 Christmases this year for the duration of the production.

Hannukah also coincided with the production this month. So backstage, several children from the cast also celebrated with a very special "Christmas Story" menorah that honors the infamous "leg lamp" won by the Old Man. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzguOVS-258

Florangela Davila is KNKX’s news director. A journalist in Seattle since 1992, she’s earned numerous individual and team honors in print, online and broadcast, most recently three regional Murrows for KNKX.
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