The 2 Ralphies in 'A Christmas Story' speak up
In this Oct. 26, 2012, photo, Johnny Rabe, left, and Joe West pose in front of one of the props from "A Christmas Story, the Musical" in New York. Both 12-year-old boys are making their Broadway debuts playing Ralphie in the stage adaptation of the cult 1983 film. (AP Photo/Mark Kennedy)
NEW YORK (AP) — This Christmas, if Ralphie ever actually does shoot his eye out with a Red Ryder BB Gun, don't worry. There's a spare Ralphie.
Johnny Rabe and Joe West, both 12, are taking turns playing the bespectacled, daydreaming hero in a musical stage version of the cult film "A Christmas Story."
Both grew up watching the 1983 movie, both initially auditioned by submitting videos and both are now making their Broadway debuts.
"It's so great to be here," Rabe says during a joint interview in a rehearsal room. His co-star agrees: "I'm very excited but, at the same time, nervous."
The film and musical are based on writer and radio-TV personality Jean Shepherd's semiautobiographical story of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker's desperate attempt to land an air rifle as a Christmas gift, despite warnings from everyone that he'll shoot his eye out.
In this Oct. 26, 2012, photo, Joe West, left, and Johnny Rabe hold a Red Ryder BB Gun, one of the props from "A Christmas Story, the Musical" in New York. Both 12-year-old boys are making their Broadway debuts playing Ralphie in the stage adaptation of the cult 1983 film. (AP Photo/Mark Kennedy)
Like the film, the musical features a menacing school bully, an annoying kid brother, an eccentric father, a lace-stocking-clad leg lamp, a bright pink bunny suit and a kid who gets his tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole during a triple-dog-dare.
"It's cool to be playing such an iconic character," says Rabe. "I mean, a lot of people know Ralphie. They know who he is. They know the gun, the glasses, the cheesy smile, the daydreaming."
The show has more than a dozen catchy songs written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — titles include "Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun" and "A Major Award" — and a book by Joseph Robinette. It also stars Dan Lauria, who played the dad in "The Wonder Years."