BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS STORY at Fulton Theatre
There is little danger of shooting your eye out when seeing Fulton Theatre's production of A Christmas Story. Instead, there is a great chance of having your socks knocked off! This show is a lot of fun, featuring some amazingly talented kids.
Ryan Kimbark plays the role of Ralphie Parker. As anyone who has ever turned on a TV during the month of December already knows, the one and only thing Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder B.B. Gun. Kimbark has an impressive voice and makes the most of it through several songs. He has great stage presence and a deserved sense of confidence not seen in most actors three times his age.
Jeffrey Coon and Lindsay O'Neil play the roles of Ralphie's dad and mom, respectively. Coon gives the "Old Man" character some additional heart and sympathy that makes him more three-dimensional than his gruff movie counterpart. His song "A Major Award" is a major showstopper. O'Neil's as Ralphie's Mother is sweet, compassionate, and the glue that holds the family (but not the leg lamp) together.
Chase Jennings Gray plays Ralphie's pipsqueak little brother, Randy. Gray is especially adept at the physical comedy associated with his ridiculous snowsuit.
The role of the narrator/grown up Ralphie was played by Nathaniel Hackmann. It is great to see him star in a role outside of his comfort zone as a stuck-up villain. His calm intelligent reflections allow us a chance to see additional humor and irony in the events. I was impressed by how much Coon and Hackmann looked alike. It was very easy to believe that they were father and adult son.
The remainder of cast are consistently excellent. All of the children were extremely talented, with Farkus (Grant Bailey) and Flick (Cole Gable) as two of my favorites. Lastly, I would be remiss, if I did not mention the fine work of Lanene Charters as Ralphie's teacher, Miss Sheilds. She reveals a well-developed set of pipes, a great sense of chaotic humor, and a powerhouse tap routine (thanks to Mara Newbery Greer, choreographer) during her second act number which lead to a round of loud, appreciative applause.
The set, designed by J. Branson, consists primarily of the Parker's elaborately detailed two story 1940's home that was pushed forward or back depending on the scene, Several backdrops, curtains, and screens are used to represent other areas, more abstractly.
My sole criticism of the show is that it sometimes favors sentimentality over quirkiness. Many of the movie's characters and situations were just plain weird, A celebration of such weirdness, (like Randy living under the kitchen sink) generated a substantial number of the film's laughs. As adapted to a traditional musical comedy, such quirks are often downplayed or eliminated to give more time to the emotional journey of the main characters.
A Christmas Story is a stocking stuffed with warm fuzzies. Audience members will be doubly nostalgic envisioning both the simpler times of the 1940's setting and the 1980's movie. Audience members should be prepared for an evening of old-fashioned good cheer.
A Christmas Story runs now through December 31st at the Fulton Theatre in downtown Lancaster. You are encouraged to buy tickets early, as their holiday shows often sell out. Tickets and more information at their website .https://thefulton.org/