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St. Louis Teen Part of ‘A Christmas Story’

See 'A Christmas Story — The Musical' through Jan. 4, 2015, at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis.
Fabulous Fox Theatre

Maria Knasel got her start at The Muny. Now the 13-year-old singer, dancer and actress is part of the Broadway tour of “A Christmas Story — The Musical.”

After roles in “Billy Elliot” and “White Christmas,” Maria said touring is no big deal anymore. “I mean, it’s still really fun, but this is my third tour. It’s been really fun with this cast. It’s a totally different show than I’ve done in the past. It’s family-friendly. It’s fun for the whole family. The whole show is great.”

“A Christmas Story” is the tale of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker who wants a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle for Christmas. But everyone else — his mother, his teacher, his classmates and even Santa Claus — warn him “you’ll shoot your eye out.”  

“Everyone says ‘You’ll shoot your eye out.’ I even say it in a tap routine that we do,” Maria told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter on Friday.

The story became a movie in 1983, and has become a holiday cult classic. Cable channels have aired 24-hour “A Christmas Story” marathons each year since 1997. Maria said she’s never seen the movie.

“I need to watch it. I know I need to watch it,” Maria said. “I think I saw it when I was really little. The only thing I remember is when Flick got his tongue stuck to the pole.”

But she knows enough about the movie to know that the musical, which debuted in 2012, is very similar.

“My brother is actually obsessed with the movie right now,” Maria said. “I haven’t sat down and watched, but I’m listening. I’m like, ‘Hey they say that exact same line in the show.’ The show is word-for-word from the movie.”

Maria plays Esther Jane, the girl who wants a red wagon for Christmas and tells the teacher that Flick is stuck to a flag pole.

While touring for the past two months, Maria said the cast has become very close.

“This cast has like become my family,” she said. “There’s only four of us girls, but I’ve become really close with the other boys who are like my age, and some of the adults as well.”

In local productions, Maria recently played Tevye’s youngest daugher in Stages St. Louis’ production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Last year she was Young Fiona in “Shrek the Musical” at The Muny.

Outside of the theater, Maria is working on mastering the unicycle and keeping up with school work. She’s already thinking about her college major: “Musical theater,” she said. “I have a disabled brother who has autism, so I might want to do something with that, like musical therapy or something.”

Related Event

“A Christmas Story — The Musical”

  • When: Dec. 16, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015
  • Where: Fabulous Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis
  • More information

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.