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Grayslake teen stars in ‘A Christmas Story, The Musical’

GRAYSLAKE – Eight times a week, 13-year-old Braden Crothers of Grayslake transforms into Scut Farkus, the infamous bully in “A Christmas Story, The Musical.”

It’s a dream role for the red-headed Crothers. And, in the words of his character, he’s not ready to “say uncle.”

“It’s one of the most fun roles I’ve ever played,” said Crothers, who has performed professionally since age 6 on stages throughout the Chicago area and beyond. “I’ve never really been able to play the bad guy in most of my roles. I’ve been this sweet, good kid. … It’s a lot of fun venturing into a new world, being mean.”

His first time performing at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Crothers is starring in the production through Jan. 1. He counts the experience among his favorites.

He even received a video message, posted to his bradencrothers Instagram account, from the actor who played Scut Farkus in the original 1983 film “A Christmas Story.” The Marriott production is based on the film. For a schedule and ticket information, visit www.marriottheatre.com/show/a-christmas-story.

“It’s a fun, lighthearted show,” said Braden’s mother, Sarah Crothers. “You just kind of have a smile on your face for most of the show.”

Braden’s parents, Sarah and Ryan Crothers, have five children. When Braden and his twin brother Elijah were 3 years old, they started modeling.

“Every parent thinks their kids are so cute, but they were also very personable and didn’t have any fear of strangers, which is why I thought maybe they could have fun and do well modeling,” Sarah Crothers said. “I had no idea 10 years later we would be here.”

Along with Braden, Elijah has appeared in advertisements and commercials. Elijah most recently appeared in an episode of NBC’s “Chicago Fire.” He and Braden were cast as “mischievous brothers” in commercials when they were younger.

“That’s exactly what they were as little kids,” Sarah Crothers said.

Braden appeared on NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” in 2016 and has taken on numerous film, theater and television roles since. In 2019, he appeared in “Saint Frances,” a critically acclaimed independent film.

Among numerous theater roles, he has played Louis in “The King and I” and Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol” at Drury Lane Theatre; Boy Scrooge/Matthew Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol” at Milwaukee Repertory Theater; Friedrich in “The Sound of Music” at Big Noise Theatre in Des Plaines; Charlie Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at STEPS Performing Arts Center in Lindenhurst; and Nigel in “Matilda” at the Woodstock Opera House.

“It’s something I would love to do as a career,” said Braden, who enjoys not only acting but singing and dancing. “It’s such a fun job because you’re getting paid to do what you love, basically. I hope I can do this, and I’m going to work hard to get there.”

Juggling school and performances can be tough sometimes, he said, but his teachers and family are supportive.

He often works on homework backstage.

“Sometimes it’s a struggle,” he said. “You just have to find the time in between shows.”

Schoolwork comes first, Sarah Crothers said, and it’s important that Braden continues to have fun and doesn’t feel pressure. She’s thankful for an extended family that often helps get Braden and her other children where they need to go.

“His siblings are super supportive of him,” she said. “Luckily, there’s no jealousy or anything like that. I guess we just ended up with a very good situation, and we work hard to maintain that.”

Braden hopes to one day take on other dream roles, such as any lead character in “Newsies” or “Les Miserables,” or the King in “Hamilton.”

“I’m really open to anything,” he said.

For now, he said he’s just enjoying being a legendary bully.

“I’d seen the movie a few times,” he said of “A Christmas Story.” “It’s a classic, for sure. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this movie.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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