It started in high school when “A Christmas Story” Director Matt Spencer and his wife, Holly, met and shared a love for the theater and each other. They will be married 20 years next May. About this time three years ago, Matt’s job as an Environmental Engineer moved their family of seven to York. Both Matt and Holly got involved with Yorkshire Playhouse when Holly was cast in “Nunsense II.” It rekindled their love of working with theater productions, helping out in the community, and they made lots of new friends in a new town.
“God Spell” back in high school was Matt’s first time at directing. Since coming to York he played a duel role in “Leaving Iowa” as Joe Hosfinger, the crazy farmer, and a motel clerk. He assistant directed and played a soldier in the production of “The Mouse That Roared.”
Earlier this year, Matt submitted Philip Grecian’s “A Christmas Story” as the holiday play. The movie came out in 1983 when Matt was seven or eight years old. He says he remembers the feeling of wanting a certain gift so badly, as Ralphie does in the movie. Rather than a gun, Matt was wishing for GI Joe action figures like his older brother had. Matt feels like most people have seen the movie and relate to the classic story. “Everyone loves this movie.” He watched the movie with his cast, he wanted them to get a feel for their character but not imitate the characters. Matt feels his cast members will bring their own talent and expression to the role they play.
When selecting his cast, of course Ralphie was critical. Matt found Ralphie in nine-year old Brody Booth, who not only looked a little like Ralphie, he brought the enthusiasm and talent the director was looking for. Brody has done some summer children’s theater, as well as being cast in last year’s “Miracle on 34th Street.”
The adult Ralphie, played by Jameson Trauger, narrates the play and explains a lot of young Ralphie’s feelings and emotions to the audience. Matt says he loves working with both children and adults. He explained that “with an adult, if they need to be sad, you just say, act sad. With children you often have to take them to a memory or scenario that will bring them the feeling." Matt says rehearsals have been great--lots of laughter and fun every time.
Matt explained that the play and the movie have the same classic scenes and flow. However, in the play, Ralphie has a love interest that eventually leads him to feel girls aren’t so bad.
“I am excited for everyone to see the show, everyone will leave with a smile on their face, it’s been great.” We are excited for Matt, as he makes his debut as a director of “A Christmas Story” at the Yorkshire Playhouse.
Written by: Mary Alley
In the picture on the left is Matt Spencer and son Jett Spencer in "The Mouse that Roared" and to the right Jameson Trauger and Brody Booth (grown and young Ralphie).