Tinsel and spotlights; costumes and sparkles: this is what dreams are made of. For little girls who long to be superstars, landing a part in a Christmas show is a dream come true. Aliemah Bradley is the envy of those budding actors this Christmas. The 11-year-old novice auditioned for a part with Portland Center Stage's A Christmas Story, and was rewarded with two understudy roles and a part in the ensemble cast.
"I absolutely love it," says Bradley, a 6th grade student at Self Enhancement Inc.'s middle school. "The fact that I am here at Portland Center Stage for my first professional play is amazing. It's so much fun. The play has so many child actors – most of them about my age and they are all so funny and so nice.
Bradley is excited to be going on stage in the Gerding Theater at The Armory, Portland Center Stage's spectacular venue in the Pearl district. She's also excited about the play, she says.
"I do like this story; it's a good one and there are some extra scenes in the play that aren't in the film and make it even better."
The play – better known to most of us as the classic film, A Christmas Story -- is based on stories by the radio storyteller Jean Shepherd. Set in New York state in the 1960s, it tells the story of Ralphie Parker, whose goal in life is to get a Red Ryder model air rifle for Christmas. And as everyone knows, the trouble with air guns is "You'll shoot your eye out." Ralphie's adventures include dodging bullies, freezing flagpoles and mountains of cabbage and meatloaf.
Adapted by Phil Grecian and directed by Rose Riordan, the play features newcomer Michael Cline as young Ralphie, Darius Pierce as adult Ralphie, Valerie Stevens as mother, Ebbe Roe Smith as the old man, Laura Faye Smith as Miss Shields and 11 child actors, including Aliemah Bradley. You'll find her and the rest of the cast rehearsing every day after school except Monday, and on weekends.
Bradley's last role was as Sacajawea in a school play at SEI Academy, where her mother Marcy Bradley is the education nonprofit's executive director.
"I've been hanging out in those halls since I was born," she says. "And I've been acting in school plays with Miss Green, the drama teacher at SEI, for as long as I can remember."
A straight A student, Bradley loves math and science. She hasn't decided what she wants to when she grows up yet.
"Acting is an option, but before this production my life was all sports," she says. "My number one priority right now is the play, but if I wasn't here I'd be playing competitive golf or swimming."
The play previews in Sunday Nov. 21, opens on Friday Nov. 26 and runs Tuesday through Sunday until Dec. 26.
Show times are 7:30 pm with 2 pm matinees Saturdays and Sundays. No performances on Thanksgiving or Christmas day. Performance times on Dec. 24 are noon and 5 pm.
Tickets start at $33, but some student and youth discounts are available. Rush tickets (you wait in line on the day) are $20.
The Gerding Theater at the Armory is located at 128 NW 11th Ave., Portland Call 503-445-3700 Buy tickets online.