Score rescues oddly staged 'A Christmas Story: The Musical'
I have an unusual Christmas wish this year: I want fewer Christmas musicals going forward.
Broadway is currently playing host to a return engagement of “Elf,” based on the 2003 Will Ferrell film, and “A Christmas Story, The Musical,” based on the nostalgic 1983 comedy. Just a few blocks away, you can find the perennial “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” and, as of next month, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at Madison Square Garden.
In “A Christmas Story,” which is extremely faithful to the film, 9-year-old bespectacled Ralphie (played by the big-voiced Johnny Rabe) longs to receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas in 1940s Indiana
The central problem in mounting a stage version lies with depicting the adult Ralphie, who serves as the film’s off-screen narrator.
Here, Dan Lauria wanders aimlessly around the stage and speaks directly to the audience, rather like a Ghost of Christmas Future. His presence makes the storytelling clunky and disjointed.
That said, the real perk of “A Christmas Story” lies in its highly melodic, original score by the up-and-coming team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Come to think of it, here’s a better Christmas wish: more new musicals by Pasek and Paul.