The word “diverse” is in our mission statement at Near West Theatre, and inclusion is one of our stated values. Age, race, education, economic background, theatrical experience, sexual orientation — differences in these areas are, to us, strengths as we build a cast into a community. Our varied stories inform us as we encounter a musical play. They add to our vitality on stage.
The places we come from form part of that diversity. The cast that hits the stage Friday, Nov. 15, for a four-weekend run of A Christmas Story, the Musical, comes not only from the city of Cleveland (the largest group) but also from 16 other Northeast Ohio municipalities, as mentioned in this Cleveland.com story. What’s not apparent there is just how city-centered this group is. Thirty of the actors (54 percent) have Cleveland addresses, and 22 of those are from our core Near West Side zip codes: 44102, 44109 and 44113. Among young participants, the urban percentage is even higher: 73 percent of the cast’s 7- to 25-year-olds live in the city.
Over the years, this neighborhood mix has enriched us. Stories abound: Cast conversations where city kids learn that life in the suburbs isn’t always Camelot and kids from the burbs learn that city life, too, can often be safe, fun and abundant … Suburban drivers who stop on the way in and give a city cast member a ride to rehearsal … The way city and suburban groups within the cast of West Side Story honestly had it out with each other on the way to understanding the story’s gang theme … Urban-suburban prom dates who met at Near West …
We’re rooted in the city, and we celebrate everyone’s gifts. As our street-sign logo suggests, we’re a crossroads. — Hans Holznagel
Supporters of this production of A Christmas Story, the Musical, include the City of Cleveland, Department of Community Development, and a presenting sponsor, Hinkley Lighting. Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.
A Christmas Story, the Musical
Musical by Joseph Robinette, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul,
based upon A Christmas Story © 1983 Turner Entertainment Co., distributed by Warner Bros., written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark, and on the book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd.
A Christmas Story, the Musical, is produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC., of Woodstock, Illinois. Produced with permission of Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc.