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Story by Andy Argyrakis
Though it would be tempting to merely let the televised version give fans their fix, the relatively recent stage adaptation "A Christmas Story, The Musical!" is simply a must see show, not only because it paints the picture in fresh light, but because it also benefits from a brand new soundtrack that could rival any Broadway blockbuster. Currently in residency at the Chicago Theatre (through December 30) as part of a national, five-city tour, the musical comes under the production care of Peter Billingsley, who starred as the original Ralphie Parker on the silver screen and also produced "The Break-Up" and "Iron Man."
As for the show itself, it was packed with all the movie's most memorable moments and one-liners, from the triple dog dare of Ralphie and his classmates egging on a fellow student to stick their tongue to a flag pole (which naturally freezes) to the classic "oh fudge" scene that finds that main character getting his mouth washed out with soap. However, those are mere detours along the way in a simple but solid plot of Ralphie's desire for the ultimate Christmas gift (a Red Ryder BB gun), even though he's told by his parents, teacher and even Santa Claus "you'll shoot your eye out."
Along the way, the stage version adapts a series of infectious sing-a-longs, like the instantly familiar "Counting Down to Christmas" and the flag poll folly "A Sticky Situation." Another first half highlight is "A Major Award," during which The Old Man (Ralphie and his brother Randy's pop) wins the most tacky lamp in history (that just so happens to be shaped like a women's leg, stockings and all) and the entire cast creates a Rockettes-styled kick line while holding replicas of the ridiculous decoration.
Additional enhancements to the already fabulous film include "The Wizard of Oz" hat tip "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!" (featuring Ralphie's teacher dressed as The Wicked Witch of the West) and "Up on Santa's Lap" (led by a disgruntled St. Nick drinking from a flask as he pushes bratty children down a slide). Even with all the drop dead hysterics, a narrator waxes nostalgia throughout all the shenanigans, eventually closing with a feel good message about families sticking together amidst life's simple but still stressful dramas. As a matter of fact, the musical is perfect for everyone in the family and pretty much anyone with a sense of humor, while also serving as a welcome diversion from all the same old stale holiday shows that could someday be replaced by this comedic masterpiece.
"A Christmas Story, The Musical!" continues at the Chicago Theatre through Friday, December 30. For show times and additional details, visit www.thechicagotheatre.com.
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