BWW Reviews: Woodlawn Theatre's CHRISTMAS STORY Is a Musical Delight
Woe to anyone who shoots their eye out, for not being able to see A Christmas Story: The Musical at the Woodlawn would be a tragedy. Though their 2012 non-musical production of the classic Holiday film was joyous, this version is superior.
Like the film, A Christmas Story: The Musical centers on the precocious Ralphie Parker as he desperately pulls every con and trick he can to convince his parents to leave a B.B. gun for him under the Christmas tree. The musical, with a book by Joseph Robinette and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, received Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score and was such a huge hit when it premiered on Broadway in 2012 that it was revived this year at the massive Madison Square Garden in New York.
The score by Pasek and Paul-two pals who met at the University of Michigan and have already written four full-length musicals by their current age of 28-is perhaps the biggest asset of the material. Pasek and Paul's score is both classic and current, and it never tries to simplify its complex melodies due to the young age of most of the performers.
The kids get just as demanding material to work with as the adults, and they're more than up to the task. Wide-eyed Clayton Anderson is delightful as Ralphie. Anderson is a young performer who manages to match the film's Ralphie, Peter Billingsley, in adorableness, and his wonderful voice is icing on the cake. Jack Dullnig is fantastic as Ralphie's younger brother, Randy, and their act two duet is a highlight.
Of course, the adults are just as successful. As the narrator, Greg Hinojosa is a perfect storyteller, and as the show's director, he gives the production an easy, no-nonsense pacing and staging. Marc Daratt is wonderful as Ralphie's Old Man, a bumbling but likeable fool. As Ralphie's mother, Woodlawn favorite Rebecca Trinidad gets to play a more grounded woman (she's usually cast in outrageously comedic roles), and she's nothing short of magnificent. Her two numbers and overall presence give the show an emotional center which sometimes lacks from the film. Beth Erwin is sensational as Ralphie's teacher, Miss Shields. Erwin doesn't get much to work with in the first act, but her show-stopping act two number, "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" brings down the house. The fantastic gangster-themed jazz tune greatly shows off Chris Rodriguez's brilliant choreography and Erwin's powerful belt.
Whether you're a fan of the 1980s film A Christmas Story or not, A Christmas Story: The Musical is a delight to see. Holiday musicals are rarely this vibrant, charming, or fun.
Running time: Approximately 2 hours including one 15 minute intermission.
A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL plays the Woodlawn Theater at 1920 Fredericksburg Rd, San Antonio, TX 78201 tonight 12/28 at 7:30pm and tomorrow 12/29 at 3pm. Tickets are $15-$23. For tickets and information, visit www.woodlawntheatre.org.
Woodlawn Theatre's next production, Stephen Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS, plays February 14th - March 16th. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, January 14th.