Review Roundup: A CHRISTMAS STORY Returns for Holiday Engagement at Theater at Madison Square Garden
A Christmas Story, The Musical recently arrived at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, where it opened on December 12, 2013.
Reprising their roles are Dan Lauria (Lombardi, "The Wonder Years," "Sullivan and Son") as Jean Shepherd, John Bolton(Spamalot, Contact, Titanic, "Boardwalk Empire," "Gossip Girl') as the Old Man, Tony Award nominee Erin Dilly (Nice Work if You Can Get It, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Mother and Caroline O'Connor (Chicago, Moulin Rouge) as school teacher Miss Shields. Eli Tokash (Mary Poppins) plays Ralphie at certain perforances, Noah Baird as little brother Randy, and Jake Lucas (Newsies, Far From Heaven), donning the famous spectacles will take on the lead role of Ralphie.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times: "Jake Lucas, a youngster with a strong singing voice, is Ralphie, whose yearning for a particular Christmas gift, a BB gun, drives the story. The cast is full of children, and the director, John Rando, doesn't always draw professional-caliber performances out of them, sometimes giving the show the feel of a seasonal school pageant. But, especially with the move to Madison Square Garden, the audience isn't there for refined theater so much as for a holiday spectacle. The production has just enough flourishes in it to oblige..."A Christmas Story" looks as if it will settle in as a holiday perennial by virtue of its broad appeal if nothing else. It offers songs and silliness for children, many of whom will have already seen the 1983 film version, which is omnipresent on television at this time of year. And for grown-ups, it's a chance to savor what a beautifully constructed, versatile piece of Americana Shepherd left us."
Steven Suskin, The Huffington Post: "Benj Pasek and Justin Paul -- at the time, untried college grads just starting out -- have written a joyous, endearing and delectable score. Very funny, too...A Christmas Story is in fine shape at Madison Square Garden, although what it looks like from the far perches of the 4,000-seat venue is hard to say. The four adult stars have returned. Dan Lauria charms his way through his role as the strolling narrator, John Bolton carries the show as a limber-legged comedian in the Ray Bolger/Dick Van Dyke mold, Erin Dilly provides the emotional center as the mother of the clan, and English/Australian import Caroline O'Connor steals every laugh she can mine as the local school marm. Last year's excellent Ralphie and Randy have outgrown their roles, alas. The parts are now played by talented newcomers Jake Lucas and Noah Baird. The show's hidden asset, ten-year-old tap specialist Luke Spring, happily remains in place...A Christmas Story is a modern-day rarity: a holiday family show that'll enthrall the kids while offering adults flavorful, top-flight entertainment."
Roma Torre, NY1: "When Madison Square Garden ended its holiday musical version of "A Christmas Carol" years ago, I couldn't imagine another show equaling the joyfulness of that Broadway caliber production. Well we have one now! "A Christmas Story," back in New York after last year's triumphant Broadway outting, is every bit as warm, wonderful and entertaining! If you enjoyed it last year, you can essentially repeat the thrill this year. "A Christmas Story' at MSG's Theater is virtually the same show, though two of the child leads playing Ralphie and younger brother Randy, are new. Rest assured, they have talent to spare.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: The cavernous Theater at Madison Square Garden - a soulless hangar with awful acoustics - is a terrible place to see a show. And yet "A Christmas Story - The Musical" still works its magic there. That alone says a lot about how good it is. And while it would have been better to see the show on Broadway, where it opened last year, at least it's back somewhere in the city, giving families a non-sappy option for holiday entertainment.