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Review: A Christmas Story the Musical! (Chicago Theatre)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

Clarke Hallum as Ralphie Parker - A Christmas Story   
A Christmas Story 

Book by Joseph Robinette  
Music/Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Directed by John Rando
at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tickets: $35-$79   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
   Read entire review



Despite sight-line issues, this show is pure holiday joy!


Review: A Christmas Story the Musical!  (Chicago Theatre)


Madstone Productions and Patriot Productions presents


A Christmas Story the Musical!

Review by Katy Walsh 

A reviewer’s job is to tell theatre-goers what s/he saw.  Well, from Aisle 2, Seat KK 318, I only saw 66% of A Christmas Story the Musical!.  This was my first play in the legendary Chicago Theatre since the 1990‘s Donny Osmond’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  For that show, I sat in the balcony without any sight issues.  I imagine that would be true for this show too.  The prime seats are center, main floor.  On the seating chart, I’d say the problem starts in either sections 3-Right or 3-Left and progressively gets worse moving to the sides of the building.  This impacts

Review: A Christmas Story the Musical!  (Chicago Theatre)
2R/2L on into the Grinches-in-the-making in 1R/1L.  The issue is the stage is deep, so, any activity taking place further back is completely lost to the side aisles.  In addition, the narrator and his foley artist are perched on either side of the stage frame further obstructing the view. The technique is to give a radio show feel.  Well, for me and hundreds of patrons, the irony of that decision loses the humorous angle  (why can’t they move these set pieces away when those characters are not in the scene?).

Nonetheless, what I saw and heard I loved!  A Christmas Story the Musical IS the 1983 iconic movie but with more heart and song.  Radio humorist Jean Shepherd narrates his recollections of a memorable Christmas.  In 1940, all he wanted for Christmas was a Red Ryder Carbine Action two hundred shot range model air rifle.  Leading up to Christmas, Ralphie works all the angles to secure the prize.  He is obsessed.  He writes a school essay. He hints to his parents.  He tells Santa Claus.  In between his single-minded quest for the perfect gift, life happens.  A Christmas Story is relatable nostalgia.  It’s going (childhood)-home-for-the-holidays where the unforgettable Christmases were always the imperfect ones 

The creative team of Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Joseph Robinette perfectly translate movie classic to live performance.  Jean Shepherd’s cult-like movie quotes heighten the comedy.  ‘You’ll shoot your eye out.‘ ‘I triple dog dare you.‘ ‘Awwww, fudge!‘  The familiar mingles with the bright, shiny, new music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.  The addition of songs to the show feel natural.  Cast members seem to organically slip into a song or musical fantasy number.  So much so, I’m certain I’ll start to *remember* the original movie as having songs in it.  Throughout the show, I’m continually impressed by the talented neighborhood kids.  They sing.  They tap.  They amaze!  In particular, Clarke Hallum (Ralphie) has remarkable stage presence.  Hallum confidently hits his high notes and punch lines.  Along with his adult version played by Gene Weygandt, the duo find a sweet, sentimental realization in hindsight and in-the-moment.  Beautiful stuff!

Review: A Christmas Story the Musical!  (Chicago Theatre)
Clarke Hallum

Jonathan Burke, George Andrew Wolff, Nicholas Daniel Gonzalez and Adam Pelty
Review: A Christmas Story the Musical!  (Chicago Theatre)

The rest of the family is much more human than their Hollywood-ized counterparts.  John Bolton (dad) is hilarious with his colorful rants over the furnace and his dancing excitement over the one-legged lamp. (The spectacular one-legged lamp dance, choreographed by Warren Carlyle, was 70% visible from my vantage point.)  Bolton’s interaction with Hallum and Rachel Bay Jones (mom) are charming snippets of unconditional love.  Bolton and Jones showcase this strong bond of paternal and martial love.  Jones sings my favorite song of the show ‘Just like that.‘  She is comforting her kids and the theater side sections with ‘A moment comes, a moment goes, just like that the moment is gone.‘  Profound on many levels.  An oversized Randy, played by Matthew Lewis, is adorable as the non-eating, cubby-hiding younger brother.  

A Christmas Story the Musical! is all about family!  And this one is flawed AND lovable!  This quotable dialog from the movie and play sums it up perfectly for me.. 

   Mr. Parker: Yeah? Did you get everything you wanted?
Ralphie: Well almost.
Mr. Parker: ALMOST huh? Well that’s life. Well there is always next Christmas.


Rating for center section: ★★★½


Rating for side sections: ★★½


A Christmas Story the Musical! continues through December 30th at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State Street (map).  Tickets are $35-$79, and are available by phone (800-745-3000) or online at (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: Two hours and 30 minutes, which includes one intermission)

ACS - Santa Elves

All photos by Carol Rosegg 




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