I will admit that didn’t have the highest of expectations when heading out to see A Christmas Story, The Musical. Musicals based on (non-musical) movies are often sketchy, and I don’t love the movie to begin with. My biggest hope was that I wouldn’t be bored and that my 6-year-old daughter would also remain entertained through the whole 2 1/2 hours. I guess I should have set my sights higher because we were both entranced for the whole thing.
For the uninitiated, A Christmas Story is about Ralphie, a boy who is obsessed with getting his dream Christmas present: a Red Ryder carbine action BB gun. But all of the adults in his life threaten that he’ll shoot his eye out. In the meantime, he contends with bullies, school, and the trials of childhood, including a father who has an obsession of his own. It’s a story about family, and growing up, and the magic (or lack thereof) of Christmas.
I ended up bringing my 17-year old niece and her best friend, as well as my theater-loving brother-in-law. It was nice to get the perspectives of so many different people because we all had a unique take on things. My brother-in-law enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I did. He preferred the movie version. My niece and her friend seemed to enjoy it, although they seemed a bit scandalized now and again (see below) and would probably have shaved off 15 or so minutes if they could. It is, admittedly, on the long side. 2 1/2 hours with intermission will test the limits of young theater-goers, although some popcorn or candy mid-show may help regain their focus! We were surrounded by families with kids in the 5-9 age range and the kids all seemed to love it from beginning to end.
The show has a stellar cast. Dan Lauria, of Wonder Years fame, plays Mr. Parker (aka adult Ralphie) who serves as the story narrator. Broadway veterans, John Bolton and Erin Dilly play Ralphie’s parents. Ralphie is played by an extremely talented Jake Lucas, but his talent is nearly eclipsed by the cuteness factor from Noah Baird, who plays his little brother. All of the kids in the show were amazing to watch, but definitely expect to be wowed by young tap dancer Luke Spring (who appeared on Ellen at the ripe old age of 7). The kids take the show from just being funny and entertaining to a sheer delight.
There are a few things parents should note before taking their kids to see A Christmas Story, The Musical. First of all, although it’s about a kid, it’s not necessarily geared toward kids. Expect quite a bit of adult humor and a lot of faux swearing. Second, it’s set in the 1950’s, with all of the sensibilities you’d expect to find. There’s some tongue-in-cheek ethnic slurs/stereotypes and references to gender roles. There are cowboys and Indians and little girls dancing in saloon dresses. I think my niece and her friend were occasionally horrified that my 6-year-old was watching this, but it went right over her head. Younger kids will miss most of the “inappropriate” content, but older tweens and teens will most likely pick up on it all. There were also a few uncomfortable moments when, in a dream sequence, Ralphie pulled out his rifle at school to save his teacher-in-distress. Unfortunately, what should be a silly dream of saving the day may, for some, be a reminder of the less heroic violence we’re seeing all-too-often in schools today. The only issue I had was with the “outing” of Santa Claus at the end when an adult Ralphie alluded to the fact that his Christmas present actually came from his father. Once again, it will be lost on younger audience members, but may cast some additional doubt for kids who are just on the cusp. I had no regrets in taking my daughter, who thought it was amazing, but I always believe it helps to enter into these situations prepared.
A Christmas Story, The Musical is playing until December 8 at the Citi Wang Theatre in Boston. For a bit more background and a discount code, you can visit my original post.
Disclosure: We received tickets for review, as well as for a giveaway. There was no additional compensation and the opinions contained in this post are my own, or those of my friends/family.