“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!” – A Christmas Story, the Musical

by Kelly, Manager of Group and Partner Services

Fade in on the 1940s in Indiana, and the most important time in young Ralphie Parker’s life – Christmas time.  Ralphie only wants one thing for Christmas – an official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 Shot Air Rifle (with a compass in the stock and that thing that tells time.)  All Ralphie needs to do to make this dream a reality is convince a few key people…and be good until Christmas, of course.

We all know the story – Ralphie sets out to convince his mother, his teacher and Santa himself that there are many reasons why he should have this magical toy – only to be met each time with the fateful words “you’ll shoot your eye out!”  Combine this quest with classic family foibles like The Old Man’s obsession with winning a newspaper puzzle contest (where his “Major Award” comes as quite a surprise to the family), Triple Dog Dares that lead to sticky playground situations…and a new Christmas dinner experience after the Bumpus hounds’ interruption causes the family’s traditional plans to go awry.  We owe this beloved tale to radio personality Jean Shepherd, whose colorful radio broadcasts between the mid 1950s and mid 1970s rose to fame featuring retellings of his short stories.  Several of these stories were formed into the plot of the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story,” which has become a cult classic movie and Christmas tradition in many households.  The stage version has been in production since 2006, finally making its way to the Broadway stage this season for a limited engagement run through December 30, 2012 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

A Christmas Story: the Musical, with music and lyrics by the young songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (making their Broadway debut fresh off their Off-Broadway run of “Dogfight,” which I also loved), book by Joseph Robinette (an award-winning author of 55 published plays and musicals of his own), and directed by John Rando (Urinetown, The Wedding Singer), features the talents of John Bolton (Curtains, Spamalot, Titanic) as The Old Man, Erin Dilly (Nice Work if You Can Get it, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Mother, Dan Lauria (Lombardi, TV’s The Wonder Years) as Jean Shepherd, and introduces Johnny Rabe as Ralphie.

Many of my colleagues and friends seemed skeptical when a musical version of the beloved classic movie was announced.  I, admittedly, have only seen pieces of the movie in question – though after seeing and loving the musical, this movie will definitely have to become part of my Holiday movie tradition.  The amusing storyline lends itself well to the stage – Ralphie’s daydreams are the perfect fodder for full-length and fantastic production numbers like “Ralphie to the Rescue” and “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” (the latter being one of my favorite numbers of the show, featuring the terrific Caroline O’Connor as Miss Shields in a tap dance number with the kids that literally stopped the show with riotous applause), while the quietly beautiful “Just Like That” sung with heartbreaking care by Mother brought a tear to my nostalgic eye.  The score is the perfect mix of rousingly raucous, traditionally tender, and energetically entertaining, with lines that I am still humming weeks later.  The cast is led by the adorable Johnny Rabe, who has a presence well beyond his years.  His talent and youthful exuberance light up the stage and have us rooting for Ralphie ‘til the very end.  Another standout performance for me was John Bolton as The Old Man.  Bolton’s number “A Major Award” was another favorite of mine, with a kickline of leg lamps to add to the hilarity of his character.  The young ensemble of 10+ children are exceptional talents, and a joy to watch, with special mention of youngster Luke Spring, who at 9 years old is already an accomplished tap dancing machine – who has to be seen to be believed.

A Christmas Story: the Musical is the perfect holiday treat for families, Holiday visitors, and fans of the original movie alike.  Whether you’re a movie purist or a newcomer to the story like me, this blast of Holiday cheer will warm your heart all winter long.  Be sure to get your tickets now and start the Holiday season off right!

If you’d like more information on how to get tickets to A Christmas Story: the Musical, please contact me at kshoemaker@newyorkguest.com, or give us a call at 212-302-4019.  Happy Holidays…and “fa ra ra ra ra…ra ra ra raaaaah” to all!

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