ST. CLOUD -- A Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and "this thing that tells time" is at the top of 9-year-old boy's Christmas list.

GREAT Theatre's version of the popular holiday movie, A Christmas Story debuts Saturday.

Director Aimee Miron says the play is very similar to the movie but they've put in a few surprises for the audience.

"There are these wonderful fantasy sequences, these big song and dance numbers, that really show the audience what Ralphie is thinking or what the old man is thinking about different things, it's really fun."

The classic holiday story follows young Ralphie Parker as he quests to get a present he desperately wants for Christmas, a A Red Ryder Carbine Action BB gun. Parker's teacher, mother and even the Santa Claus inside a department store claim such a present is not safe and the little boy would shoot his eye out if he used the gun.

Starring as the young Parker is 11-year-old Connor Harens. Harens says this is his first theatre performance and he's playing the role from his own point of view.

"I didn't see the movie before I actually tried out, so I really didn't know what he acted like."

The play will run for three weekends at the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud. For ticket information visit the GREAT Theatre's website. 

Chrissy Gaetke, WJON