MAHWAH, N.J. — Viewers worldwide might recognize Mahwah's Colton Maurer as the nacho-eating punk at the New York Knicks game in Aziz Ansari's "Master of None" on Netflix.
Locals, however, know the 12-year-old boy as Albert in Ramsey's Academy of St. Paul's production of "Bye Bye Birdie," or from seeing him at the supermarket with his mom.
Maurer and his unmistakable dimples are headed to Millburn's Paper Mill Playhouse, where he'll play Ralphie in a production of "A Christmas Story."
It's a role that didn't require much adjusting, he said..
"He's determined. When there's something he really wants he goes for it," said Maurer, who first played Ralphie in Big League Productions' National Tour in 2014. "He has a huge imagination and he's just got a loving family."
Based on the 1983 movie, "A Christmas Story" is a comical account of Ralphie’s desperate quest to ensure that an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle ends up under his tree this Christmas.
"I think everyone can relate to him because there's always that one year where everyone wants that one thing for Christmas," said Maurer.
Keeping his pipes in shape is the biggest challenge for Maurer, who will perform on the same stage that helped launch Anne Hathaway's acting career and has featured stars that include Bernadette Peters and William Shatner. He swears by tea and cough drops.
"The show is very vocally demanding," he said. "In almost every number I’m belting the whole time."
Maurer's favorite scene is "Ralphie to the Rescue," which features the protagonist daydreaming of saving the world with his new rifle.
The play isn't just about Christmas presents and guns, he said.
"It's about family."
"This kid Ralphie is growing up and he has all these people around him, learning struggles and conquering them," he said. "It's about understanding you’re not only by yourself."
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