A Christmas Story Musical Prompts Laughs, Tears: A Review

Do you remember when you wondered whether Santa Claus was gonna come, and bring you what you wanted on Christmas Eve?

Not like today, when you know the big guy will stop by. Back when you wondered. Hoped. Dreamed.

If you need a nudge to dredge up that memory, A Christmas Story, The Musical is playing in the newly-renovated Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento. The charming show opened last night and will run through November 17.

History was made at last night’s opener, as A Christmas Story, The Musical is the first Broadway production to play at the historic Memorial Auditorium. As Sacramento is enjoying higher than average temperatures this November, you might be reluctant to attend a nostalgic, unapologetically yuletide show.

But I’d encourage you to get over that and treat yourself to this wonderful production. After all…

Christmas is only 46 days away.

The Tony-nominated Broadway musical adapts the 1983 classic holiday film to the stage, bringing all of your favorite set pieces and phrases (the flag pole, the bunny PJs, the leg lamp, “fragile,” “You’ll shoot your eye out!”) to life with a set of catchy tunes by the songwriting team behind Dear Evan Hanson, La La Land, and The Greatest Showman. The show’s choreography is equally engaging, but none of that would have worked if not for a brilliant ensemble that made it hard for me to single out standouts.

But I will.

Briana Gantsweg’s sweet portrayal of Ralphie’s mother made me recall my own, holding a chaotic home together with heart and hugs. Her “Just Like That” needs to be on every holiday playlist. The song’s now on mine.

Lauren Kent amazed me as Miss Shields, swapping out a stern classroom teacher with a vampy chanteuse in a comical dream sequence. All of the kids in the production were brilliant, singing and dancing their hearts out, with one of them almost out-hoofing Kent.

But the show’s Ralphie, Ian Shaw for opening night, was amazing. He has a voice that filled the Memorial Auditorium and stage presence to match. I overheard several conversations about Shaw in the lobby during the show’s brief intermission. If the Bloomington, Indiana native weren’t a stage veteran already, I’d tell you a star was born. The other kid playing Ralphie during the Sacramento run, Tommy Druhan, has his work cut out for him.

And there’s a standout line in this production, spoken near the end of the show. After Ralphie recalls why a certain Christmas gift will always be his all-time favorite, I wiped away a tear for my dad, one of the best helpers Santa Claus ever had.

See A Christmas Story, The Musical. As Ralphie has reminded me…

“It All Comes Down To Christmas!”

Tickets for A Christmas Story, The Musical start at $26 and are available now at the box office, 1419 H Street, Sacramento, or by calling (916) 557-1999; at the Memorial Auditorium Box Office, 1515 J Street, Sacramento, or by calling (916) 808-5181; or online at BroadwaySacramento.com.

Published by Michael P Coleman

Freelance content creator. I used to talk to strangers and get punished. Now, I do it and get published.

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