Critics responded warmly to the stage production based on the Jean Shepherd stories and the beloved 1983 film of the same name. Singled out were the young songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose score includes such songs as "Red Ryder," "Ralphie to the Rescue," "A Major Award" and "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out." Joseph Robinette authored the book.
Tony Award winner John Rando (Urinetown) directs the tour of A Christmas Story, which originated at the Hershey Theatre, in Hershey, PA Nov. 8. Additional stops included Detroit, MI; Raleigh, NC; and Tampa, FL.
In recent seasons New York has hosted a holiday Broadway musical – think White Christmas, Elf and The Grinch; A Christmas Story producers are hopeful their production might also find a place under Broadway's Christmas tree in the future.
A cast album of the production has also been available at stops along the tour. The cast is led by Clarke Hallum and John Bolton (Spamalot, Contact, Titanic) as Ralphie and The Old Man, respectively. The two originated the roles when A Christmas Story debuted at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre last year.
Based on the stories of radio humorist Shepherd, the classic holiday story concerns Ralphie Parker, whose holiday wish is a Red Ryder 200 Shot Carbine Action Air Rifle. The comedy follows Ralphie through his holiday campaign for the gift of his dreams, complete with a visit to Santa at Higbee's Department Store, a racy lamp, the family's exploding furnace, an experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost and more.
The cast also features Matthew Lewis as little brother Randy, Gene Weygandt (Wicked, Big, Working in Chicago) as Jean Shepherd, Rachel Bay Jones (Women on The Verge…, Hair) as The Mother, Karen Mason (Mamma Mia!, Wonderland, Sunset Boulevard) as school teacher Miss Shields, and Adam Pelty (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Steel Pier) as Santa.
Completing the cast are John Francis Babbo, Jonathan Burke, Andrew Cristi, Sally Elting, Nick Gaswirth, Nicholas Gonzalez, Casey Gorab, Drea Gordon, Leslie Henstock, Carl Kimbrough, Sean Mcknight, Mara Newbery, Lyn Philistine, Charlie Plummer, Alex Puette, Johnny Rabe, Kayla Rea, Emily Rudolph, J.D. Rodriguez, Jake Bennett Siegfried, Marguerite Willbanks, George Andrew Wolff and Kirsten Wyatt.
The show is produced by Peter Billingsley, the former child actor perhaps best known for creating the role of Ralphie Parker in the holiday film, as well as Gerald Goehring (Frankenstein: The Musical), Roy Miller (West Side Story revival, The Drowsy Chaperone), Michael F. Mitri (Frankenstein: The Musical), Pat Flicker Addiss (Promises, Promises; Spring Awakening), Mariano Tolentino, Louise H. Beard, Michael Filerman, Scott Hart, Timothy Laczynski, Bartner/Jenkins Entertainment, Angela Milonas, Bradford W. Smith.
A Christmas Story, The Musical! debuted in an earlier incarnation in 2009 at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. That production had a score by Scott Davenport Richards. It resurfaced in 2010, with Pasek and Paul attached, for a run at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre.
The production has scenic design by Walt Spangler; costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy; lighting design by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley; orchestrations by 2011 Tony nominee Larry Blank; musical supervision by Ian Eisendrath; dance arrangements by Glen Kelly; casting by Stephanie Klapper.