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Review: A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL Brings the Holiday Spirit at Civic Theatre

Review: A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL Brings the Holiday Spirit at Civic Theatre

On stage through December 24th.

A Christmas Story, the Musical reimagines the 1983 holiday movie masterpiece with boisterous songs and dance that brought new life and excellent vocals to the season. Loving fans, rest easy. Joseph Robinette's adaption, directed by Emily Rogge Tzucker, brightens iconic scenes and characters and enhances the humor. The lamp, the flag pole, and the turkey-mad Bumpus Hounds are all there.

Steve Kruze as Shepherd, with a sincere and delightful radio voice, narrated his tale: 9-year-old Ralphie Parker (Jaskson Duncan) embarked on a wildly ingenious quest to get his Old Man (Parrish Williams) and Mother (Mikayla Koharchik) to buy him an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas.

On the second night, Duncan's performance was near-flawless, without a single dropped note. As youthful Ralphie negotiated a dangerous landscape, a standout was amusingly whiny kid brother Randy (Henry Kirk) amidst a talented ensemble of peers, who join him in the weeks before Christmas in a 1940 Indiana where children still worried about being naughty or nice.

The music that weaved throughout came courtesy of acclaimed composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose work includes Dear Evan Hansen and James and the Giant Peach. More recently the pair won the 2017 Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song for the La La Land song, "City of Stars."

"Ralphie to the Rescue" brought the whole company on stage for a fast-moving song and dance as Ralphie fantasized about a heroic save-the-day with BB gun in hand. In "A Major Award," Williams took the stage with his contest win, the famous leg lamp, and in a upbeat Busby Berkeley-esque act. The scene exploded with colors, and William's triumph of the ego was captured in every step.

An unbridled Miss Shield (Nina Stilabower), Ralphie's school teacher and BB gun block, ripped up the stage in "You'll Shoot your Eye Out." She even joined on a tap-dance tap off with some super talented kids. Quieter and emotional -was Mikayla Koharchik's kitchen solo, "What a Mother Does."

Special shoutouts go to the choreography originally by Warren Carlyle, and then with a step forward on Civic's stage by Anne Beck. The scene design by Ryan Koharchik brought the 1940s alive, as did Adrienne Conces costume design, with the stage full of plaid dresses and baggy pants and the Parker's fairytale TV-free home.

By its end, the audience was transformed into one big family, humming with a Christmas spirit. A Christmas Story, the Musical transcended today's troubles and returned us to a more simpler time, where dedication and love prevailed over all obstacles no matter how flawed the family, or how big the dream.



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