Entertainment, Lifestyle

Holiday Classic Showcases Acting Chops of Kingsville’s Les McDonald

If there is one thing you can count on at this time of year, it’s the return of the holiday television classics. Whether you’re a fan of the old black and whites of the 1940s, the kiddie favourites of the 1950s and 60s, or the more recent holiday fare, it’s safe to say that there is something for everyone to watch and enjoy while counting down the days to Christmas.

Really, what would the season be without “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” or “Frosty the Snowman”?

Among the hundreds of movies made to celebrate and honour the holidays, there is one story that stands out amongst all others. With many of the hallmarks of a classic, “A Christmas Story” is relatable and timeless and has become a seasonal perennial since first hitting the big screen in 1983.

Following the travails of Ralphie, a young boy growing up in middle-class America in the 1940s, “A Christmas Story” showcases what the merriest of holidays is really like for the average, middle-class family with kids: sometimes perilous, loaded with disappointments and overcharged with commercialism but, equally, hilarious and heart warming.

And this year, it can be seen live on the stage of the Bank Theatre in Leamington.  Directed by the talented Corey Robertson, the story is performed by a cast of committed local actors, including Kingsville’s own Les McDonald.

The Kingsville Times met up with Les to discuss the inspiration for his role as Ralphie’s grumpy father, his background in acting, and his love of theatre.

Kingsville Times: 
For those of us who know the story and who know you, it was surprising to see you cast in the role of the grumpy old man, Ralphie’s father. How did you prepare for this role and who did you look to for the inspiration for your character?

Les McDonald:
Oh trust me, the grumpy old man lives within me LOL. Just ask my wife! But seriously, and my Dad won’t mind me saying this, I channelled my Dad’s old man and the character Al Bundy from “Married With Children.”

Although my Dad is the biggest teddy bear you will ever meet, with a huge and humble heart, he could sure let ’em rip. And no lie, I think he was also mumbling some strange swear word language that only exists in myth. A language only his family could understand.

I love the character Al Bundy because he is such a simple guy that thinks he has it all figured out, but we all know how wrong that is ha ha! “A Christmas Story” is one of my family’s MUST SEE holiday movie classics and I have always LOVED The Old Man. I still can’t believe I get to play his character. It’s a thrill.

Les McDonald on the set of Inception, 2010, Kananaskis, Alberta. Photo courtesy of Les McDonald

You’re not new to acting. Tell us a bit about your past roles and your involvement in theatre and in movies.

My acting life started on stage in high school musicals. I played Johnny Casino and Teen Angel in “Grease,” and Seymore Krelborn in “Little Shop of Horrors.” I’ve been fortunate to have a pretty OK career acting for Film and Television.

Most of my work was in US and National Commercials (which paid well!) but I also had many great jobs acting on movies and TV sets. I was the Toyota Tundra Guy, the father in a Dell Commercial, and a Lumberjack in a Claritin commercial.

I acted on the set of “Inception” as one of the Snow Troopers, as a dead train robber in “Hell On Wheels” and even a sniper in a Nora Roberts adaptation of “High Noon.”

Being on top of Fortress Mountain with great actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Tom Hardy in Kananaskis Country for four days on the set of “Inception” was a highlight, for sure.

Playing the Old Man in “A Christmas Story,” however, is probably the most fun I’ve ever had as an actor. When you see the show you will see what I mean.

Les McDonald plays a sniper in Nora Roberts’ High Noon, in 2009. Photo courtesy of Les McDonald

In light of the pandemic and all the changes it has brought to our lives, what does it mean to you to be able to return to the theatre for this Christmas performance?

The pandemic has been, and still is such a challenge on so many levels, but especially in the performing arts arena. It’s amazing to see musicians and actors being able to perform in front of a real audience again.

I had no idea how much I was taking this sort of experience for granted until the pandemic hit. It’s been such a hard couple of years, and to be able to work with other amazing actors, adults, children, directors, and the entire production crew has been a healing and lifting gift on the deepest levels for me.

There are so many talented actors in this show, young and old. You have to come see them all. I can’t wait to perform this show in front of an audience starting December 2. It will be surreal.

Les McDonald on the set of Hell On Wheels, TV Series. Photo courtesy of Les McDonald

It’s not too late to purchase tickets for the Bank Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Story.”

Visit www.banktheatre.com or call 519-326-8805.

Next Performances:

Thursday, Dec. 9 – Saturday, Dec. 11
Doors 6:30 p.m.
Show 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 12
Doors 1:30 p.m.
Show 2:30 p.m.

Top photo from KindPng



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