For San Luis Obispo teen Sacha Carlson, “A Christmas Story” is as much a part of Christmas as opening presents or eating holiday treats.
“I’ve watched it (every year) since I was a little kid. I have a deep relationship with this movie,” he said.
That relationship is about to get even stronger. Carlson, 14, is making his national television debut in “A Christmas Story Live!” — airing Dec. 17 on Fox.
“It’s like Broadway on steroids,” Carlson explained, describing the show as a high-energy holiday extravaganza complete with singing, dancing and a big dose of holiday cheer. “It’s pretty awesome, but it’s pretty crazy at the same time.”
Like 1983’s “A Christmas Story,” “A Christmas Story Live!” focuses on Ralphie Parker and his quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.
Fox’s production takes cues from both the movie and “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” which opened on Broadway in 2012. Benji Pasek and Justin Paul, the Oscar- and Tony Award-winning team behind “Dear Evan Hansen” and “La La Land,” composed several new songs for the TV version; they also composed the Tony-nominated musical’s original score.
It’s the latest in a series of live Fox telecasts of hit musicals including “Grease” and “The Sound of Music.”
The “A Christmas Story Live!” cast includes Andy Walken as young Ralphie and Matthew Broderick as grown-up Ralphie.
Maya Rudolph and Chris Diamantopoulos co-star as Ralphie’s parents, and Jane Krakowski, Ken Jeong, Ana Gasteyer and David Alan Grier also make appearances. There’s even a performance by pop boy band PrettyMuch.
Carlson acknowledged that his famous co-stars left him a little starstruck at first.
“They’re my idols,” he said. “They’re really genuine and they’re really kind. ... They’re all amazing and really talented. To see them in their acting element is really special.”
Carlson plays Scut Farkus, the bully who torments Ralphie and his young pals.
Unlike his big-screen counterpart, Carlson does not have yellow eyes. (Only “when the moon is full,” he joked.) And, he insisted, he’s not a meanie at heart.
“I’m not a bully. I’m a nice guy,” the actor said with a chuckle.
Landing the role of Scut is a big break for Carlson, an eighth-grader at Laguna Middle School in San Luis Obispo. According to his mother, he’s loved performing since he started dancing at age 5.
“He likes to be on stage. ... It’s his personality,” said Louise Carlson, a registered nurse at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.
After performing in local shows with Kelrik Productions, PCPA-Pacific Conservatory Theatre in Santa Maria and what is now San Luis Obispo Repertory Theatre, Sacha Carlson began studying acting with Aaron Metchik at Actor’s Edge in San Luis Obispo. That’s where he was discovered by a talent agency three years ago.
Since then, Louise Carlson and her husband, Steve, who works in agricultural sales, have shuttled their son back and forth to Los Angeles for auditions.
Sasha Carlson, who’s performed with Academy of Dance San Luis Obispo, Civic Ballet San Luis Obispo and SLO Movement Arts Center in San Luis Obispo, said his tap-dancing skills gave him an edge when auditioning for “A Christmas Story Live!”
“Finally, all of my work is starting to pay off. That just feels so good to me,” he said.
Since rehearsals for “A Christmas Story Live!” began Oct. 17, Carlson has spent most of his time in Los Angeles.
“We have really long hours during the day,” said the performer, who’s being homeschooled in lieu of attending regular classes. “(But) it doesn’t feel like work for me. I’ve been having the best time ever.”
He added that he’s “more excited than nervous” about the Dec. 17 telecast.
Cameras will follow the cast members as they shift from set to set at the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank, broadcasting their movements live. (Although viewers on Eastern Time can watch the telecast live, it will be tape-delayed on the West Coast.)
Carlson’s parents will be on hand to watch the action unfold — as will his 17-year-old sister, Greta, a senior at San Luis Obispo High School. She dances the role of the Snow Queen in Civic Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker,” playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo; her brother had to skip dancing in this year’s show because of his involvement with “A Christmas Story Live!”
“The past two months have literally been the best two months of my life,” Sacha Carlson said. “I’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to be a professional, working actor. I’m living the dream.”
‘A Christmas Story Live!’
“A Christmas Story Live!” airs 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 17 on Fox. For more information, visit www.fox.com/a-christmas-story-live.