There’s a range of new theater offerings on this very busy weekend, from the goofy musical charms of the stage adaptation of “A Christmas Story” to a razor-sharp political drama coming on the heels of the presidential election. I interviewed a director or actor from each of the following shows, and you can find the individual stories at www.fresnobee.com/entertainment. Here’s a brief rundown so you can plan your theater-going experience:
A prized BB gun
Co-directors: Robert Sanchez and Emily Pessano
The story: Told in flashback form through the nostalgic haze of memory, Ralphie relives a classic Christmas in which all he wants is a genuine Red Ryder BB gun.
More than just gags: “It’s a coming-of-age story,” says Ethel Birrell, who plays the role of the female chief elf in the show. “And it’s about the sometimes humorous, unspoken dynamics of a traditional family in the 1940s.”
Look for: The famed leg lamp. You can’t have a “Christmas Story” without a leg lamp.
Details: Opens Nov. 10 through Jan. 8. Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, 1226 N. Wishon Ave. www.gcplayers.com, 559-266-9494. $32-$59.
Race for president
The production: Fresno City College presents Beau Willimon’s political drama “Farragut North.”
Director: Charles Erven
The story: Inspired by Howard Dean, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, the play focuses on the campaign staff of a fictional candidate competing in the Iowa caucuses.
Will the play make you more cynical? “The play has not made me dislike the idea of politics, but it has definitely opened my eyes to some of the corruption in campaigns,” says Dylan Hardcastle, who plays a character named Ben in the show. “It’s also gotten me more interested in politics than I thought I’d ever be.”
Look for: The show’s distinctive staging, which uses a thrust stage with the audience on three sides of the action
Details: Nov. 11-19. Fresno City College Studio Theatre. www.fresnocitycollege.edu, 559-442-8221. $14, $12 students and seniors.
In the cards
The production: The Fresno Art Museum hosts a fundraising production of Donald L. Coburn’s “The Gin Game,” which won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It is underwritten by Jerry Palladino, founder and artistic director of CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP, and Raoul Scott, owner of Fresno Soap Co., with proceeds going to the museum.
Director: Jerry Palladino
The story: Two lonely residents of a nursing home get to know each other when one teaches the other to play gin rummy. As the games progress, they alter the nature of their friendship.
Why does the play remain relevant today? “Because it’s an honest depiction of how we all live our lives, make mistakes and sometimes fail to correct them,” Palladino says. “If we alienate ourselves from our families while young, we cannot expect them to be there when we are old.”
Look for: A real-life married couple, Art and Charlene Cano, playing the roles of Weller and Fonsia
Details: Nov. 11-20. Fresno Art Museum, 2233 N. First St. www.brownpapertickets.com, 559-441-4221. $20.
Iraqi women speak
The production: Fresno Pacific University presents Heather Raffo’s “9 Parts of Desire,” a series of gripping monologues.
Director: Julia Reimer
The story: Nine women characters tell about their lives during the time of Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War.
Example of one of the monologues: One of the characters is a doctor from southern Iraq,” Reimer says. “She has just gone through a difficult delivery in a hospital without sufficient medical supplies or equipment. She talks about the impact the uranium from bullets has on the soil, the children who make necklaces out of them to wear, the cancer, the babies being born with defects.”
Look for: Arabic songs at the beginning to highlight the communal aspect of the nine performers
Details: Nov. 10-19. Fresno Pacific University Strasbourg Theater. www.fresno.edu/events/theater. $12, $10 students and seniors.