The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
A Christmas Story, The Musical!

Ralphie, what would you like for Christmas? —Mother

Horrified, I heard myself blurt it out! 'I want a Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle.'Oooooooh! —Ralphie as Adult

No, you'll shoot your eye out. — Mother

Oh no! It was a classic, mother BB-gun block. 'You'll shoot your eye out!' That deadly phrase honored many times by hundreds of mothers was not surmountable by any means known to Kid-dom, but such as my mania, my desire for a Red Ryder carbine, that I immediately began to rebuild the dike. — Ralphie as Adult
A Christmas Story
Johnny Rabe
(Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)
During the holiday overload of Christmas stories, it’s easy to get overdosed with sweet sentimentality. Christmas is as tailor-made for nostalgia as you can get, usually romanticized as the homespun holiday everyone hopes for. Over the years this idealized memory may blur but the yearning for a simpler life, family love and security remains. No one has expressed this more engagingly than master storyteller, Jean Shepherd in his semi-autobiographical tales heard on radio, TV and film.

A Christmas Story: The Musical!, from Shepherd’s book, In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash, comes to Broadway in an exuberant song and dance, gift-wrapped family package at the Lunt-Funtanne Theatre. The portrait of Christmas in Hohman, Indiana 1940 is ab old-fashioned effort that tries to keep a balance between reality and fantasy. If details are dated, fhe theme of family closeness, is timeless.

In a mix of smart and silly tongue-in-cheek, Joseph Robinette’s adaptation of Shepherd’s original is unabashedly warm-hearted and hectic. The score by young theater writers Justin Paul and Benj Pasek conveys the high-spirited rhythms of the 1930’s and ’40’s. Dan Lauria replicates Jean Shepherd's story-teller, bringing energy to his narration through the elaborate words of the grown-up Ralph.

With Mother fussing in the kitchen, Dad (lovingly called, “The Old Man”) going to work and worrying over bills, the story centers on their persuasive bespectacled nine-year-old son, Ralphie Parker (played here by Johnny Rabe and alternately by Joe West). Like the other kids, Ralphie goes to school, minds Miss Shields, the teacher, squabbles with his younger brother Randy (Zac Ballard), and is embarrassed by his parents. It is three weeks before Christmas and Ralphie is struggling on the rocky road of fervent anticipation for his dream gift, "a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.”

Facing inevitable mishaps, Ralphie schemes for the rifle, “the Holy Grail of Christmas presents.” Things do not look promising when his mother, teacher, and even Santa, scoff, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” A fight with a neighborhood bully further hurts his case, but Ralphie’s worst moment comes after he blurts out the “F” word (“I said the word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word! I had broken the number one verboten rule”.) Obviously, those were different times.

Laughs come when The Old Man (John Bolton) wins the grand award of a tacky lamp fashioned like a lady’s leg clad in a stocking. Another f crowd-pleasing touch comes from Mr. Bumpus’ dogs that chase The Old Man home every night. Later Ralphie’s pal Flick (Jeremy Shinder), takes the triple dog dare, betting that his tongue will not stick to a steel flagpole. It does and it works. There were no bah-humbugs heard in this audience.

Ralphie’s adventures are energized by Paul and Pasek’s musical segments flavored with the sound of Broadway and old movies. “When You’re a Wimp,” with tense phrasing reminiscent of West Side Story’s “The Jet Song,” accompanies Ralphie and the kids running into the school bullies led by Scut Farkus (Jack Mastrianne). Daydreaming in class morphs into, “Ralphie to the Rescue!,” a showbiz Wild West scene with cowboys, dancing girls and Ralphie bravely wielding his rifle. In Act II, a 1930s speakeasy fantasy, “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out,” shows Miss Shields (Caroline O’Connor) strutting like a saucy gangster’s moll. Among the dancers, Luke Spring, a pint-sized fellow, steals the scene with some limber Nicholas Brothers moves and traces of Michael Jackson.

The sizable cast hosts a capable parade of stock everyday Indiana characters. Zac Ballard (alternately played by John Babbo), does well playing Randy, the little brother who, according to Ralphie, “has not eaten voluntarily in over three years.” John Bolton portrays The Old Man as a hyperactive but loving bumbler. As Ralphie describes him, “My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay.” One example, “You filty sicken hook-aid! Oh, smelly wok buster! Grout shell fratten house stickle fifer! You bladder puss nut grafter! Dorton hoper. . .” Mother (Erin Dilly) keeps her boys on the right moral track and the meals coming. Dilly proves her warm sensitivity and delightful voice, when she soothes Ralphie with a gentle ballad, “Just Like That.” (“A moment comes/ A moment goes/ And just like that/ The moment’s gone.”)

A Christmas Story, The Musical! was produced by Peter Billingsley who was the film version’s original Ralphie. Robinette’s book focused on relating the story through the children’s eyes, making the parents somewhat comical and providing adventures that are dated but familiar. Walt Spangler's cartoon sets feature cardboard trees lining the streets and hae the Parker’s home open like a doll house. Warren Carlyle's choreography has some challenging dance moves for the children, which they handle well. Costume designe, Elizabeth Hope Clancy demonstrates her flair for the period and adds the perk of comedy.

Norman Rockwell’s old Saturday Evening Post covers were nostalgic pictures of idealized small town life. Jean Shepherd put those image into words on the radio. A Christmas Story, The Musical! is an exaggerated image of the holiday but it delivers a sackful of timeless goodies. As Ralphie falls asleep on Christmas night, he cradles his rifle, “the greatest Christmas gift I had ever received. You kiddin’? My Old Man, my dad, gave it to me.”

A Christmas Story

Directed by John Rando br>

Cast: Dan Lauria, Johnny Rabe and Joe West as Ralphie, John Bolton, Zac Ballard, Erin Dilly, Caroline O'Connor, Eddie Korbich
Score: Justin Paul and Benj Pasek
Choreographer: Warren Carlyle
Orchestrations: Larry Blank
Set Design: Walt Spangler
Costume Design: Elizabeth Hope Clancy
Wig Design: Tom Watson Lighting Design: Howell Binkley
Sound design: Ken Travis
Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes with intermission.
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 West 46th Street
Tickets: $49 to $199. (212) 935-5820
Performances: Mon., Tues. at 7pm; Wed to Fri. at 8pm; Saturday at 2:30pm and 8pm.
Previews: 11/07/12; Opens: 11/19/12. Closes: 12/30/12
Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on performance 11/17/12
Musical Numbers
Act One
    It All Comes Down to Christmas/ Ralphie, The Parkers and Ensemble
  • Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun/ Ralphie and Jean
  • It All Comes Down to Christmas (Reprise)/ Ralphie and Company
  • The Genius on Cleveland Street/ The Old Man, Mother
  • When You’re a Wimp/ Kids
  • Ralphie to the Rescue!/ Ralphie, Miss Shields, The Old Man, Mother, Randy and Ensemble
  • What a Mother Does/ Mother
  • A Major Award/ The Old Man, Mother and Neighbors
  • <
  • Parker Family Singalong/ The Parkers
  • Act I Finale/ Ralphie and Ensemble
Act Two
  • Sticky Situation/ Ralphie, Flick Schwartz, Kids, Miss Shields, Nurse, Flick’s Mom, Fireman, Policeman and Doctor
  • You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out/ Miss Shields and Kids
  • Just Like That/ Mother
  • At Higbee’s/ Elves
  • Up on Santa’s Lap/ Santa, Elves, Ralphie, Randy and Kids
  • Before the Old Man Comes Home!/ The Parkers
  • Somewhere Hovering Over Indiana/ Ralphie, Randy and Kids
  • Ralphie to the Rescue! (Reprise)/ Ralphie and Company
  • A Christmas Story/ The Parkers and Full Ensemble
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of  A Christmas Story
  • I disagree with the review of A Christmas Story
  • The review made me eager to see A Christmas Story
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

Visit Curtainup's Blog Annex
For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Anything Goes Cast Recording Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2012, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from