Alpharetta news paper Review & News

There is an article in a local news paper called Review & News for Alpharetta and Roswell titled:

ACT1 actors in Alpharetta relive holiday memories with ‘A Christmas Story’
November 28, 2007

(SPECIAL/ Croft, the narrator and adult Ralphie, holds the famous genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle, the object of young Ralph’s (portrayed by Bobby Cookson) dreams in ‘A Christmas Story.’

Actors Mark Olsen and Jay Croft, who perform respectively as “the Old Man” and as the Adult Ralph in ACT1 Theater’s production of “A Christmas Story,” have discovered their own forgotten Christmas memories embedded in the Philip Grecian play.

Based on the popular movie and the memoirs of Jean Shepherd, “A Christmas Story” follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker’s quest for a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle for Christmas in the early 1940s.

Veteran actor Mark Olsen who performs as Ralphie’s “Old Man” could not resist the audition call.

Since his move to Atlanta two years ago to work at the Georgia Aquarium, the marine biologist has not auditioned once. Most of the shows on his resume from his home city of Medford, Mass. are musicals such as “South Pacific,” “Music Man,” “Oklahoma” and “Anything Goes.” He both tap-danced and sang in “A Chorus Line,” and in “Forty Second Street.”

Olsen earned his degree in Marine Biology from Northeastern University in Boston and worked at the aquarium in Connecticut before taking the job in Atlanta.

In the pecking order of his own family, Olsen was the little brother in a family of four. His real life boyhood memory of Christmas was the adventure of the whole family going together to a snow covered lot to select his very first live Christmas tree when he was 5 and his brother was 8.

“We can all relate to the story of wanting that one special Christmas gift. For me it was a Big Wheel, which, incidentally, I didn’t get,” he said. “The real message of ‘A Christmas Story’ is neither the gift nor the turkey dinner. It is the family.”

Georgia native Jay Croft takes on the introspective role of story-teller and narrator as the adult Ralph. He is on stage for most of the play.

“It is not a traditional role. There is no verbal interaction with other cast members. In fact I am invisible to the other actors as I tell the story of my younger self,” he said.

Croft was born in Macon and is a life long Georgian. He earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology and archeology from Georgia Southern, as well as a graduate degree in recreational administration. During a brief stint as an anthropologist, he helped excavate some historic cemeteries dating back to the 1700s. Croft now works for Northup Grumman in Data Quality Assurance.

Croft’s first show was in 2004 in “Sunshine Boys,” followed by “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” “Beau Geste[SIC],” and numerous shows at Kudzu in Roswell.

“I never had the desire for a Red Ryder BB gun, but when I was 12 years old my grandfather bought me a brand new 22 rifle for Christmas,” remembers Croft. “The sad thing is that while we were on our way to spend Christmas Day with my grandparents, he died. I still have that gun today.”