Aired on KSDS-FM on 12/13/19
RUN DATES: 11/27/19 – 12/27/19
VENUE: San Diego Musical Theatre
Adult admonitions and fear for a brother’s safety feature prominently in “A Christmas Story,” the beloved 1983 cult classic film.
Don’t worry; the 2012 musical version wouldn’t dare leave out “You’ll shoot your eye out!” or “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie!”
Of course, neither comes to pass in the story based on humorist Jean Shepard’s quirky, homespun reminiscences about his childhood in small-town Indiana.
1940 was one unforgettable Christmas, when he was 9½, and all he wanted — desperately, obsessively — was a Red Rider carbine-action BB gun, that would help him rise above his nerdy, wimpy self and triumph as a cowboy, destroying bad guys and rescuing damsels in distress.
He really just wanted to make his short-fused, sputtering Old Man proud of him, and not disappoint his kind-hearted Mom.
A lot happened that Depression year, and a lot was learned.
All of it is marvelously captured in the impeccable San Diego Musical Theatre production. With creative costumes and lighting, the ingenious direction of Kirsten Chandler makes excellent use of the clever scenic design and high-octane cast of 12 kids and 12 adults — all superb actors, singers and dancers.
Thanks to the imaginative choreography of Jill Gorrie, there’s tap, tango, flappers, kick lines and Busby Berkeley routines.
The engaging score, an early effort by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, since become multi-award-winners for “La La Land” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” is wonderfully played by a 12-piece orchestra expertly led by Don LeMaster.
All the comedy of Joseph Robinette book hits the bull’s-eye, with Steve Gunderson especially delightful – and tear-jerking poignant at the end — as the Narrator, a stand-in for Shepard himself. Jake Millgard and Heidi Meyer are terrific as the parents; Abraham German is adorable as young, food-averse Randy; and JP Wishchuk is outstanding as Ralphie, nimbly capturing all his elations and frustrations.
This is one delicious slice of Middle American nostalgia, where no matter what goes wrong, family is family, Christmas is Christmas, and every obstacle can be overcome — as long as you don’t shoot your eye out.
©2019 PAT LAUNER/Patté Productions, Inc.