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Howland native plays Ralphie in "Christmas Story" sequel

Published: 11/1/12 @ 12:00


“A Christmas Story” is one of those movies that everyone has seen.

Twenty-five times.

It airs repeatedly on TV every holiday season. One cable channel has a marathon of the film.

For the handful of folks who somehow might have missed it, the beloved 1983 film centers on a boy named Ralphie who, more than anything in the world, wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas (“You’ll shoot your eye out” has become the film’s catchphrase).

A sequel to the film — which fast-forwards 10 years — was released on DVD this week. The role of Ralphie, who is now 16, is played by Howland native Braeden Lemasters.

And this time, what Ralphie wants for Christmas is a car (a 1948 Mercury, to be specific).

Lemasters, who is also 16, has been acting for at least a decade. He moved with his parents, Dave and Michele, to California when he was 7 to pursue an acting career. Incidentally, Dave Lemasters was a guitarist in Left End — one of Youngstown’s most-popular bands — from 1987 to 2003.

Getting the role in “A Christmas Story 2” is a new high- water mark for Lemasters, and the budding actor knows it.

The teenager was in the Valley this week with his mother, visiting family. He talked about the role in a phone interview Wednesday morning, a few hours before boarding a plane back to Los Angeles.

“A Christmas Story 2” posed a double challenge. Lemasters not only had to play a well-known character, but had to project how he would behave 10 years later.

“I studied the role because it is such an iconic role,” said Lemasters. “I watched the film at least five times in a very short span to get the most authentic way Ralphie would be at 16.”

“ACS 2” was filmed in Canada last winter (a house in Cleveland was used for external shots in the original), and is directed by Brian Levant. It had no theatrical run — it was never intended to have one, said Lemasters — but the producers are expecting it to garner some holiday-season buzz.

Lemasters said he loves the film (“I don’t think the trailer does it justice,” he said), and thinks people will enjoy it, too, even if it doesn’t become a holiday staple like the original.

After getting a callback for a mix-and-match reading (that’s the audition phase when the director swaps in actors to see who has the best chemistry), Lemasters emerged with the role.

The director delivered the good news to him on his 16th birthday. “He said I was the most natural, and he wanted to work with me to get the Ralphie character down,” said Lemasters.

In addition to “ACS 2,” Lemasters will be seen in another high-profile project very soon. He will play the leader of a boy band on the new TBS sitcom “Wedding Band.”

The series, which follows a band that plays at weddings, debuts at 10 p.m. Nov. 10. Lemasters will appear in the fourth episode, which will air Dec. 1.

I happened to get an advance screener of the new series, and it is hilarious, with elements of “The Wedding Crashers,” “The Hangover” and maybe “School of Rock.”

Lemasters’ past film and TV credits include “Beautiful Loser,” CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and HBO’s “Six Feet Under.”

He also has a budding career as a rock guitarist. His band, the Feaver (thefeaverband.com), recently won $10,000 in a LA radio station contest and has been playing clubs in that city.

CABBAGE WILL Be The KING AT SAUERKRAUT FESTIVAL

Probably the last outdoor festival of the season will be this weekend’s Kraut Festival at Haus Orchard.

It’s a harvest festival that pays homage to the cabbage — in the form of sauerkraut — and the hearty Eastern European food that goes with it: smoked sausage, bratwurst, quarter-pound hot dogs, pierogi and haluski.

Haus Orchards, known for its apples, also will offer homemade apple streudel, apple cider, apple sauce and even nonalcoholic apple beer.

But the real star is the cabbage. Cheryl Haus of the agribusiness says about two acres of cabbage were planted in July just so they would have a nice supply for the festival.

Games, such as cabbage bowling, also will make use of cabbage heads. There also will be a shred-a-head contest, kraut-eating contest and live music. Jack Tady and the Teddy Bears will perform Saturday, and the Del Sinchak Band will play Sunday.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Haus Orchard is at 6742 W. Calla Road, off state Route 46 south of Canfield. Admission is $4 ($7 per couple; free for children under 12).