ASU Gammage often brings a festive Broadway tour show to Phoenix to celebrate the holiday season, but this year it has a youthful, local twist. When “A Christmas Story, The Musical” hits town next week, two Scottsdale ‘tweens’ who visited yesterday with Examiner will be merrily singing and dancing their hearts out on the Gammage stage.
How could any of us forget Ralphie of Christmas movie fame and the repeated ‘You’ll shoot your eye out!’ to his fervent Santa request for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle? For this re-telling of the story, Ross Nemeth (12) and Riley Glick (14) were the talented Valley musical theatre actors selected at last month’s audition coordinated by ASU Gammage and Broadway Across America’s show Dance Captain Brooke Martino.
“When I got the call as we were driving home from school, I nearly screamed,” said Glick who described the audition process as “super fun” that more than 40 young actors danced their way through one early weekend morning last month. “I am so excited to start this journey!”
The two will perform in several numbers and scenes as part of touring cast ensemble, Glick on Tuesday and Nemeth on Wednesday. Nominated for several Tony Awards, the musical that ran in New York November and December of 2012 and again the following year during the Christmas bustle, will the feature our Valley talent in songs like “Up on Santa’s Lap” and “Counting Down to Christmas.”
Nemeth, too, was enthused about the honor. “I’ve seen tons of shows at ASU Gammage, spent my whole life seeing shows there and have even gotten to go backstage,” he said, suggesting nothing about the prospect seemed scary and that he and Glick have been given videos of the currently touring “Christmas Story” performance to get the gist of the combinations and staging.
“To learn and perform on a Broadway size stage in the same day” will be the biggest challenge, said Glick, who clarified that though it’s a tall this order, she’s “definitely learned songs in a day and then auditioned them.”
Embracing the occasion as a social one as well as a performance opportunity, Nemeth relayed, “Riley and I have known each other for years; we’ve done lots shows together.” Noting their first shared show was when he was eight, he ventured, “I really hope to get to know some of the other kids [in the ‘A Christmas Story’ cast].” A “tapper” at heart, he confided, “I hope they’ll show me the tap combinations that are in the show.”
Appropriately indicative of the season, both Glick and Nemeth are eager and thankful to add such a prestigious national performance to their long and growing talent resumes.
In a show full of kids who display all the idealized hopes and wishes about the traditional Christmases of old, “A Christmas Story” begins the season’s celebration with two of our own this Thanksgiving week.
Public Relations Manager at ASU Gammage, Kari Amarosso, provided a detail especially appropriate in terms of the tweens’ gratitude. About the audition process that was originally designed to choose a single outstanding performer in the Valley, Amarosso said, “Brooke was so impressed with the pool of talent she decided to choose two winners.”