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Dickens

Jim Greene, center, plays Charles Dickens at Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles in 2013.

The theater company behind Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles will come to Auburn Thursday to perform a more modern holiday classic.

Scarlett Rat Entertainment will perform a live radio play version of "A Christmas Story" Thursday at Auburn Public Theater. With brass backing by Ralph Dudgeon and the APT All-Stars, and even a foley artist making sound effects on stage, the theater company will tell the 1983 story of Ralphie Parker and his coveted Red Ryder BB gun as though they were broadcasting it over the airwaves.

Scarlett Rat's Jim Greene said Tuesday that the company has performed radio plays of "A Christmas Carol," "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" before, many of them at The Center for the Arts in Homer. But Thursday will be the Syracuse company's first one at Auburn Public Theater, and Greene is glad it comes as Dickens Christmas celebrates its 25th anniversary.

"It's long overdue for us to do stuff together," he said of the theater. "I love that space. And Skaneateles and Auburn are close enough and so intertwined that it's a natural partnership." 

Greene, who portrays Charles Dickens in the Skaneateles festival and serves as its producing director, said he hopes "A Christmas Story" becomes a holiday tradition at the downtown theater.

Adapted by Philip Grecian, the radio play is very similar to the movie, Greene continued. The performers, many of whom have multiple roles, stand on stage and read their lines like they would in a studio. The format also allows for audience participation: Signs will be held up asking them to provide sound effects of their own, like mumbling during the scene in the department store.

"Even when you're watching us, it's your ears that are painting those pictures for you," Greene said.

Greene believes the radio play is a natural fit for the holidays, as both evoke nostalgia. After all, there's a reason "A Christmas Story" is screened nonstop on TV this time of year.

"At Christmastime, people are looking for some kind of traditional family experience to have together," he said.

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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Features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.