BWW Interviews: Scott Hart, A CHRISTMAS STORY – THE MUSICAL at the Barn Theatre in NJ

BWW Interviews:  Scott Hart, A CHRISTMAS STORY – THE MUSICAL at the Barn Theatre in NJ

Director, producer and actor, Scott Hart will be brining the renowned show, A Christmas Story - The Musical (ACS), for the New Jersey Premiere at the Barn Theatre in Montville, New Jersey from November 21st through December 13th. The highly anticipated show is already selling out some of its performances. The musical enjoyed several very successful seasons in New York City and Hart is delighted to be bringing it to Garden State audiences. Broadwayworld.com had an opportunity to interview Hart about the show.

Hart is a Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nominated theatre professional with over 35 years in the industry. His experience ranges from Broadway, Off-Broadway and tours, to regional theatre, dinner theatre and summer stock. He has worked as an Executive Producer and/or Artistic Director for several theatres and commercial dinner theatres and has served on the Board of trustees for non-profits. He is also involved with local non-profit theatres in his home state of New Jersey where he donates his time and services. He recently held the consultation position of Artistic Advisor to the Board of the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center in New York.

Hart spoke about the very beginnings of the show. "My association with A Christmas Story-The Musical started over 4 years ago. A dear friend of mine, colleague and Broadway Producer, Roy Miller (Drowsy Chaperone, Title of Show, Ragtime, West Side Story), asked me if I'd be interested in joining him on a new project he was working on. A "tryout" production had just closed in Seattle and the next plan was a national tour to tweak the show a little more. After hearing that it was a musical version of ACS and heard the incredible score by Benj and Justin, I jumped at the opportunity. Then to hear that one of our partners was Peter Billingsley himself (Ralphie from the movie) and I'd be working with him, I was thrilled"

Hart discussed building the team for the New York productions. "We brought aboard John Rando (Urinetown, On The Town) as our director and Warren Carlyle (Hugh Jackman on Broadway, After Midnight) as our choreographer. We opened in November of 2011 in Hershey PA and played there, Tampa, Raleigh, Detroit and finally the historic Chicago Theatre in Chicago. Based on the rave reviews we received along the way and especially from the Chicago critics, we decided to try ACS on Broadway the following year."

Hart was pleased with the reception of A Christmas Story in New York City. "In November of 2012 ACS opened to rave reviews on Broadway at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre. We broke their all time box office record 2 weeks running that year and the NYC audiences ate up the show and we were a hit. It was the most well received, best reviewed holiday show to play on Broadway. We closed that season on December 30th."

Hart spoke about the critical acclaim that A Christmas Story received. In 2013 rumors around town were that ACS could have a real good chance of nabbing a few Tony Award nominations. Sadly, just 2 days before the nominations were announced, my dear friend, colleague and partner, Roy Miller, passed away from a short illness. Two days later it was announced that the show not only received several Drama Desk Award nominations, but several Tony Award nominations as well including BEST MUSICAL. It was the first time in the history of the Tony Awards that a holiday musical was nominated! And, although we didn't take the award, we were honored to be nominated and front and center for the Tony's that year. Later that year ACS did a mini tour to Hartford, Boston then the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. This year, ACS is touring the mid-west and with no other productions slated for this area this year. I was thrilled to be able to help get the rights to the show for the Barn Theatre and honored to be directing the NJ premiere production."

Hart has a true affinity for A Christmas Story. "This show is near and dear to my heart for several reasons. Its heartfelt storyline about a family struggling during a tough time to make a good Christmas for their kids, the silliness and ridiculous situations that occur during that struggle and the love that holds them all together. It is based on real events and people in the life of radio personality and humorist, Jean Shepherd, who wrote the story, is a character now in our show. It has been an incredible and emotional four year ride with this show and all because my friend, Roy Miller, asked me to be a part of it. I thank him every day for that."

We asked Hart about his future plans for the show. "My long range hope is that I can direct a production of A Christmas Story - The Musical each season somewhere around the country. ACS has been a part of my holiday season for the past 4 years. It's odd to think of a Christmas without being involved with the show in some way.

For more information on Scott Hart, visit his web site at www.ScottHart.biz. A Christmas Story - The Musical will be performed at the Barn Theatre, 32 Skyline Drive, Montville, NJ 07045. Shows are scheduled from 11/21 through 12/13. For ticketing and information, call (973) 334-9320 or visit their web site at www.barntheatre.org.

Photo: Courtesy of Scott Hart

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