Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 27, 2017

A Christmas Story-The Musical

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
November 24, 2017
by R.E. Smith

The original movie, “A Christmas Story” usually resonates with fans on an emotional level. Maybe they grew up in a simpler time like the ‘40s in which it is set. Perhaps they recognize themselves in Ralphie, in his Christmas season long desire for the perfect present (a red Ryder BB gun.) Maybe they see their parents in the patient mother or blustering father. For this reviewer it is a little of all that, but also the fact that the first official date with my (future) wife was to see the film in the theater one late November day.

Like the movie from which it is inspired, “A Christmas Story-The Musical” is fast becoming a holiday tradition, though as a touring, big number, song and dance road-show rather than a quieter, nostalgia warmed little film. It is the child’s perspective that allows the creators to expand the narrative with musical numbers, many based around Ralphie’s daydreams. Although, his father, “the Old Man” tends to dream big as well, complete with high kicking chorus lines. The score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul features numbers that echo different styles from the period, such as the Hollywood Western sound of “Ralphie to the Rescue”, the Big Band sound of  “The Genius on Cleveland Street” and the sentimental “A Christmas Story.”

The younger performers steal the show, with Tristan Klaphake as the bespectacled and often frustrated Ralphie, Evan Christy as his little brother Randy, and a whole chorus line of fellow students, bullies and friends who lament how difficult life can be “When You’re A Wimp.” During the big showstopper, “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out,”, Wyatt Oswald, has a surprising specialty tap number.

But the adults get to kick up their heels as well, in numbers like “A Major Award”, featuring the predestined parade of plastic leg-lamps. “It All Comes Down to Christmas” sets the stage early on that this show is all about bringing smiles to the faces of children and adults alike. . .even if they don’t wind up marrying the girl they came in with!