A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL is a family affair.

Colton Maurer as Ralphie and the Company of A CHRISTMAS STORY

Colton Maurer as Ralphie and the Company of A CHRISTMAS STORY

A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical. Book by Joseph Robinette adapted from stories by Jean Shepherd and the movie A Christmas Story. Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin. SHN Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market Street, San Francisco, 888-746-1799 or www.shnsf.com. December 9 – 13, 2015

A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL is a family affair.   Rating: ★★★★☆

Since there is an Official Red Ryder® Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle still in its original box sitting in the trunk of my car, be warned that this review will be biased. Ralphie Parker’s (alternating between Dylan Boyd/Myles Moor) plight and desire to own one is palpable. In the present climate of fear about guns, such a toy is often illegal and yes can be dangerous. As often repeated in this charming musical version of Jean Shepard’s A Christmas Story, “you could put your eye out” with one. But never fear no one gets their eye shot out.

A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical is based on the classic 1983 movie that was based on radio humorist Jean Shepherd’s stories. Previous attempts to convert the movie into a musical were unsuccessful until song writers Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, pair of former college classmates, got together with Joseph Robinette to write the book. It opened in Seattle, had a run in Chicago before arriving on Broadway in 2012 and Madison Square Garden in 2013. It was a smash hit receiving multiple Tony Nominations. Since that time it has been on a successful national tour and is only in San Francisco for a one week run.

The action of the play takes place in the small town of Homer, Indiana. It starts with a prolog of radio storyteller Jean Shepherd (the marvelous avuncular Chris Carsten) remembering the Christmas of his youth in 1940 told through the lives of the Parker family. Jean becomes the narrator as each scene changes adding cogent comments and occasionally insinuating himself into the action. It is the perfect device to tell the story allowing the collaborators to include cogent parts that made the movie memorable. The have even use two live hounds to romp across the stage and into the kitchen in a scene that would earn them a supporting acting award.

Those awards must be shared with a fine cast of adults and a plethora of talented children who sing and dance while carrying the plot forward. The Parker family consists of ineffectual “Old Man” father (Christopher Swan), Mother (Susannah Jones), the protagonist Ralphie and his younger brother Randy (Joshua Turchin). If you have seen the movie the vignettes selected for inclusion into the musical will be more meaningful than if you have not. However, the action will be appreciated by adults and older children since it is a good old-fashion feel-good show with plenty for all.

The staging and direction is very fluid with plenty of uplifting songs, great dancing by the youngsters accompanying the adults and with solo stints to show off their talent. For those who know the movie you should know that the lamp shaped like a woman’s leg plays an important role and has been mounted in pleasing dance by the entire cast. They have wisely included the scene where the youngster is dared to put his tongue on the ice cold flag pole and of course gets stuck and the rebellion of Ralphie against the bullies of the town. Along with those vignettes, the writers have included fantasy trips that add original tales of interest between the adapted movie/book story-line.

All in all the two hour and 20 minute, with intermission, running time is well spent and we now have another ‘Christmas Story” to add to the usual fare of A Christmas Carol, White Christmas and the Nutcracker Ballet.

MAJOR CAST: Dylan Boyd/Myles Moore as Ralphie; Chris Carsten as Jean Shepherd; Christopher Swan as The Old Man; Susannah Jones as Mother; Joshua Turchin as Randy, and Avital Asuleen as teacher Miss Shields.

ARTISTIC STAFF: Broadway Director John Rando; Tour Director Matt Lenz; Choreography by Warren Carlyle; Original Scenic Design by Walter Spangler adaptation by Michael Carnahan, Original Costumes Design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy adaptation by Lisa Zinni; Musical Supervisor Logan Medlan.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldintenetmagazine.com

Colton Maurer as Ralphie and the Company of A CHRISTMAS STORY