"You’ll shoot your eye out, kid," is a phrase well-known by fans of the classic 1983 film, A Christmas Story.
The tale of Ralphie Parker, his family and his wish for Santa to bring him a Red Ryder air rifle is playing on the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s stage until Dec. 14, and the show features two local 11-year-old actors, Meguire McRae-King and Tristan Mackid.
For McRae-King, who lives in the Lido Plage area, this is her first professional role. She plays Helen Weathers, the smarty-pants in Ralphie’s class.
"She’s very mature, and even tries to beat the school bully," McRae-King said.
McRae-King, who is home-schooled, has taken part in a home-school students’ acting group that performs Shakespearian plays. Her mother, Jennifer, said it was the group’s director who suggested the young actress audition for A Christmas Story.
Interviewed the day before opening night on Nov. 21, McRae-King was confident about performing in front of a large audience.
She said she was most surprised about the quick lead-up to the production.
"It’s really coming together," McRae-King said.
In spite of his young age, Mackid has taken acting lessons and had TV and film roles. From Breezy Bend in Headingley, he attends Lincoln School in St. James. He made his main stage debut in Rainbow Stage’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Mackid plays Schwartz, one of Ralphie’s friends, in A Christmas Story. For those whose memories of the film are hazy, Schwartz is the boy who triple-dog-dares Flick, the bully, to touch his tongue to a metal pole during recess.
He said acting onstage requires more verbal animation compared with film acting.
"You have to be more expressive," he said.
Like McRae-King, Mackid wasn’t nervous about performing and looks forward to having his family and friends in the audience.
"I know that a lot (of classmates) are coming," he said.
For more information about A Christmas Story, see www.mtc.mb.ca