Sammy Ramirez wants to make one thing clear: He really isn’t very much like Schwartz.
Yes, the 11-year-old from Poquoson is playing the character in Fox’s live presentation of “A Christmas Story,” which will be broadcast on Sunday night. But, no, there are not a lot of similarities between the young actor and the role he is playing.
Be that as it may, director Scott Ellis said he took one look at Ramirez — and he saw Schwartz.
Casting a live musical production that features several prominent preteen roles, Ellis and his staff saw auditions from a lot of young actors. But it didn’t take him long to recognize the kid who would play Ralphie’s pal and the issuer of the notorious triple-dog dare.
Ramirez has been performing on stage since he was 5 years old, working first at Centerstage Academy in Grafton and later with Virginia Musical Theater, Williamsburg Players and Peninsula Community Theater. He has trained as a singer, dancer and actor at Eastern Virginia School for the Performing Arts in Williamsburg. Ramirez made his debut on Broadway a year ago in “School of Rock,” playing the young stylist Billy.
Even after his experience on Broadway, preparing for a live TV broadcast is something different. Every scene, including several intricate song-and-dance numbers, must be choreographed not just for the performers but for the cameras as well.
And then there is the knowledge that all of this preparation is for just one performance — a single opportunity to nail it, with a national viewing audience as witnesses. No chance for second takes or edits.
“It is a little intimidating to think about,” Ramirez said. “You think of millions of people watching you at the same time, and you can get nervous with that.
Fox will broadcast a live performance of the musical “A Christmas Story” at 7 p.m. Sunday. Sammy Ramirez, an 11-year-old from York County, will play the role of Schwartz.
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