“A Christmas Story”: What Critics Thought

“A Christmas Story: The Musical” arrived on Broadway Monday night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, for a holiday engagement through Dec. 30. 

Inspired by the 1983 holiday film favorite, the musical is based on writer Jean Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical story of bespectacled 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, who wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, despite warnings from his family that he’ll shoot ... ah. You've heard?

Broadway’s “Story” stars Dan Lauria (TV’s “The Wonder Years”), John Bolton (“Spamalot”), Tony-nominee Erin Dilly (“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”) and Johnny Rabe, as Ralphie (with Joe West in some performances). The score is by the composer/lyricist team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the duo behind “Dogfight”; John Rando (“Urinetown”) directs. The production counts among its producers Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in the movie.

Here’s what the reviewers said:

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: “Every year at this time Broadway producers are seized with the urge to pick parents’ pockets with splashy holiday fare aimed at young audiences. ‘A Christmas Story’ … wins points for being less glitzy and more soft-spoken than the garish, overbearing musical versions of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ and ‘Elf.’

Tanner Stransky, Entertainment Weekly: “The most iconic moments from the original story have been morphed into entire scenes or songs or running gags ... Some of it works beautifully: The leg lamp plot, which has always been strangely beautiful in its randomness, rises to new heights of oddity, when Ralphie's dad, Frank, launches into a fantasy song called ‘A Major Award,’ complete with a kick-line of dancers outfitted with -- yep, you guessed it -- leg lamps. Odd yes, but somehow it works.”

Elizabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: “Even those who’ve somehow managed to miss the film are likely to enjoy the show. This is a sweet, funny holiday outing, the rare family entertainment that doesn’t feel like a soulless, dumbed-down corporate product.”

Mark Kennedy, AP: “It's a snappy piece of mature songwriting from a pair of guys barely as old as the original 1983 film. The duo, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, are making their Broadway debuts with a score that is funny, nostalgic, warm and tender.”

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