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BWW Blog: Goodbye December, Christmas is Gone

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the 2012 Broadway production of A Christmas Story: The Musical.

BWW Blog: Goodbye December, Christmas is Gone

It's almost nearly past Christmas, but A Christmas Story: The Musical lives on forever. The limited engagement ran on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne theater from November 19, 2012 until December 30, 2012, and the show's success enabled a national tour in 2014 and a live telecast version in 2017. Based off of the cult-classic film, A Christmas Story: The Musical tells the story of an Indiana family in the 1940s during the holiday season. The titular character Ralphie dreams of receiving a Red Ryder Carbine Action BB gun for Christmas, and up until the holiday, Ralphie, along with his family and friends, get themselves into sticky situations. A Christmas Story: The Musical was written by Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and Golden Globe Award-winning songwriters Pasek and Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman, Smash), which happens to be their Broadway debut, and the book is written by Joseph Robinette.

Original Broadway cast members Johnny Rabe (Ralphie), Jeremy Todd Shinder (Flick), and Jack Mastrianni (Scut Farkas) reflect on their time working on A Christmas Story: The Musical, and share their favorite holiday traditions.

Johnny Rabe, who originally played the "Insistent Boy" on the pre-Broadway tour, was promoted to Ralphie on Broadway. "It was surreal", said Rabe. "The first audition for the Broadway production was my first time in New York, and the thought of Broadway had always seemed very distant. Thankfully, the whole creative team was incredibly comforting and supportive, and I was so excited that I wasn't able to be nervous. Also, when I was auditioning for the Broadway company, I already knew the entire show, so whenever they asked to run material, I was ready to jump on the opportunity. It was very valuable to have watched John Rando and the team work with Clark Hallum as Ralphie on the tour, because it gave me a frame of reference for how to approach the character and the show."

BWW Blog: Goodbye December, Christmas is GoneWhile performing as Ralphie, Rabe's favorite song to sing was "Ralphie to the Rescue". "[That song] has to be one of the most fun numbers ever written. It's a crazy cinematic adventure with twists, turns, tap dancing, and everyone in the company was a part of it. The way the book segued into the song was flawless, and it was great to feel like everyone in the theater was on the exact same page with what Ralphie wanted. It was always a bit of a blur from when the white chaps came on to when I quickly returned to my seat, which added even more to it feeling like a dream."

Rabe had the opportunity to perform on the 2013 Tony Awards, and this is what he remembers from that once-in-a-lifetime experience: "There was a lyric in the opening number calling out to the kid in the middle of nowhere watching the Tonys, wanting more than anything to be a part of Broadway. I'll never forget seeing that moment on the monitor from offstage on the night of the show. The Tonys are the greatest celebration of Broadway, and especially that year with the giant opening number, the entire experience was like a dream come true. In the tech run, the wall lifted up, and the first thing I saw was a piece of paper marking the seat where Bernadette Peters would be sitting."

BWW Blog: Goodbye December, Christmas is GoneJust like Ralphie, Rabe celebrates Christmas. "...It's always been my favorite time of year", said Rabe. "A Christmas Story has always been a family favorite, and I grew up watching it every year. My favorite tradition...is probably starting the season at Thanksgiving. While I will always appreciate good Christmas music, I consider Thanksgiving Day to be the official start of the season, and it is the day I start blasting Andy Williams and Mariah Carey for a month. With the year that we've all had, it's been really wonderful to be with my family and focus on the things that have gotten us through this time. To me, Christmas is about being with the people I love and taking time to reflect on all of the people that have mattered throughout the years. Being a part of A Christmas Story: The Musical gave me an extended family of loved ones that I'll always feel close to."

Jeremy Todd Shinder played the character Flick, who is famously known for being triple-dog-dared to stick his tongue to a flagpole. "One of the many benefits and challenges [of being on Broadway] was living up to such an iconic scene of sticking my tongue to the flagpole each show. At the top of Act II, the curtain would come up to reveal the flagpole...and the audience would [immediately] start clapping before a word of dialogue was spoken; they just knew what was coming. I'll never forget the feeling of singing while being moved on a giant automated set piece, all the while maintaining the illusion of my tongue actually being stuck", shared Shinder.

BWW Blog: Goodbye December, Christmas is GoneWhat was Shinder's favorite song to perform as Flick? "I probably should say that my favorite song was my featured number, "Sticky Situation," which opened Act II. However, my favorite song to perform was our big tap number, "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out." Learning tap choreography from Warren Carlyle and James Gray was an absolute honor. It's well known in the industry that Warren always choreographs left-foot lead, since he's a lefty, and after all those hours spent in the rehearsal room, I've become left-foot dominant when I tap! This was the number that always brought the house down, and we were even lucky enough to perform it on the 2013 Tony Awards."

Although A Christmas Story: The Musical was a limited engagement, Shinder has memories to last him a lifetime. "Some of the best memories were meeting the celebrities that came backstage after the shows (Katy Perry, John Mayer, Whoppie Goldberg, and Neil Simon, just to name a few), going to the stage door to sign playbills, getting to be a celebrity judge on 'The Next Greatest Baker' with the Cake Boss, and learning different post-show rituals from Dan Lauria, John Bolton, and Eddie Korbich...One of my favorite memories came during the song "When You're A Wimp": there was a joke involving me getting kneed in my crotch that wasn't landing during previews. Occasionally, Pasek and Paul would pull me and our musical director/conductor, Ian Eisendrath, aside with a different lyrical phrase until the joke finally hit. We probably went through five or six variations all regarding my nuts."

BWW Blog: Goodbye December, Christmas is GoneBelieve it or not, cast members of A Christmas Story: The Musical do not need to celebrate Christmas; Shinder celebrates Hanukkah! "True, it is a little ironic that I, the son of a rabbi, made my Broadway debut in a show about Christmas, but it actually turned out to be super special. One of our stage managers must have remembered that my mom introduced herself as a Rabbi at the company meeting, because when my mom offered to host a Hanukkah lighting for the cast, they took her up on her offer. I don't entirely recall all the specifics, but I do remember sitting in the Hotel Edison lobby in-between shows stuffing goodie bags full of dreidels and chocolate gelt while my mom set up an electric menorah with Stephanie Klapper, our casting directing, before joining the cast and crew in our gracious host, Dan Lauria's, dressing room."

Jack Mastrianni played Scut Farkas, who is the neighborhood bully. "It was fun getting to play the villain every night, and wear the classic fox hat and big leather jacket", said Mastrianni.

BWW Blog: Goodbye December, Christmas is GoneLike Shinder, Mastrianni's favorite song to perform was "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out''. "We could tell while creating the number with Warren and James that it was really special, and it was so fun to wear those speakeasy costumes! There was always a huge amount of adrenaline during that ten minute period in the show, because everyone had to quick-change into their speakeasy, do the six minute tap number, then immediately change right back out of it in the wings to make it onstage for the next scene. The audience always gave a huge roar of applause at the end of the song, and even some standing ovations towards the end of the run. The song was a classic moment of big Broadway production value, which was a blast to do every night", shared Mastrianni.

For Mastrianni, his favorite part of A Christmas Story: The Musical is the people. "It's now been eight years since we did the show, and every year it becomes more clear: over time, you forget a lot of the tiny little details and experiences of a show, but you don't forget the people. The fourteen kids in the show were this crazy little family, spending long days in school, rehearsals, and performances together. There was a respectable amount of both good, bad, and ugly times, but we came out of the experience with such a siblinghood. I still keep in touch with a majority of them, including Analise Scarpaci (currently in Mrs. Doubtfire), who is now one of my closest friends! We're all spread out in different corners of the country now, but we did have a zoom reunion this past summer while in quarantine."

In closing, here is a message from Broadway's Ralphie: "I hope that everyone [had] a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, and [that everyone was] able to spend time with loved ones. [I hope] everyone stays safe in the new year!"



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From This Author Student Blogger: Kyle Morales