When two boisterous dogs tear across the stage, you know you’re in for an extraordinary theater experience, one that will plaster a grin on your face and elicit laughs from your belly.
Currently lighting up the Ahmanson stage in DTLA is A Christmas Story, The Musical. This lively and hilarious stage adaptation of the beloved 1983 film—a staple in many U.S. homes each holiday season—is absolutely delightful and a treat for all ages. A huge component of the movie’s appeal is that it captures the nostalgia and humor of a much simpler time. Set during the 1940s, both the film and the stage show presents a series of vignettes, with narration provided by the adult Ralphie Parker.
As a 9-year-old boy in 1940s Indiana, all Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Ralphie’s fervent desire is rejected by his mother, by his teacher Miss Shields, and even by a disgruntled Santa Claus at Higbee’s department store, all of whom give him the same dire warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
The vibrant musical faithfully follows the adventures of Ralphie Parker, a nine-year-old boy who harbors his dream of receiving the desirable BB gun for Christmas. Along the way, he encounters a bully named Scut Farkus, a grumpy department store Santa, and a collection of episodes that illustrate his quirky parents and kid brother such as the Dad’s seemingly never-ending battle with the malfunctioning furnace in their family home. One stand out episode features a risqué table lamp (that resembles a shapely woman’s leg) that causes a mini family feud.
While none of the songs are especially hummable, the musical does contain a charming score composed by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (also the award-winning duo behind acclaimed musicals such as Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, and The Greatest Showman.) The songs range from upbeat and catchy (“It All Comes Down to Christmas”, “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out”) to tender and heartfelt (“What a Mother Does,” “Somewhere Hovering Over Indiana”). The witty lyrics incorporate references to the movie as well as the source material: Jean Shepherd’s original stories.
The entire cast is superb, featuring astonishingly talented actors across the board, all of whom bring their characters to life with energy and charisma. Kai Edgar is a perfect Ralphie, with his sweet voice and charming stage presence. He is supported by a strong ensemble of gifted child actors, who shine in numbers like “When You’re a Wimp” and “Sticky Situation.” The adults are equally impressive, especially Chris Carsten as the narrator and voice of Jean Shepherd, who adds warmth, wisdom and humor to the story.
Director Matt Lenz creates a thrilling and dynamic staging that makes use of the Ahmanson Theatre’s spacious stage. The choreography by Warren Carlyle is inventive and lively, especially in the show-stopping tap number “A Major Award”. The scenic design by Walt Spangler is colorful and whimsical, recreating the iconic locations from the film, such as the Parker house, Higbee’s department store, and the school—all contained within a gigantic snow globe flecked with projected snowflakes. The costumes by Elizabeth Hope Clancy are period-authentic and festive, capturing the old-timey era and the sweet mood of the characters.
The tap routines really are a highlight of the show, as well as the numerous numbers that illustrate Ralphie’s vivid flights of imagination, from the old west to the gangster era.
Don’t miss this hilariously entertaining musical!
“A Christmas Story, The Musical”
Book by Joseph Robinette
Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Original Direction on Broadway by John Rando
Choreography by Warren Carlyle
Directed by Matt Lenz
Executive Producer Dan Sher
135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012
Performances: December 5 – 31, 2023
Tuesday through Friday evenings at 8:00 p.m.;
Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.;
Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: Prices — begin at $40.00
Website — CenterTheatreGroup.org
Phone — Audience Services at (213) 628-2772
In person — Center Theatre Group Box Office (at the Ahmanson Theatre) at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012
Access — Center Theatre Group offers a number of services to accommodate persons requiring mobility, vision, and hearing access.
For more information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org/Access.