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A Holiday Treat! Marriott Theatre's 'A Christmas Story: The Musical'

What first made its mark on Broadway ten years ago in November 2012, has now become a traditional holiday play for theater goers to attend – when it comes to town. Based on the mega-popular film, A Christmas Story: The Musical is regularly being mounted by theater companies come November for families to enjoy. Already well-equipped with the humor, timeless plotline and loveable characters from A Christmas Story, the musical adds to that by bringing in a massive selection of numbers written by Pasek and Paul (book by Joseph Robinette) that make this a big stage event that is sure to get everyone in the holiday spirit. And while so many films or TV shows don’t really translate to the live stage, A Christmas Story: The Musical does.

Based in Small Town, Indiana, the story revolves around a family in 1940, Ralphie Parker specifically, wonderfully played in this production by Kevan Newman (also played by Keegan Gulledge in alternating performances). Christmas is around the corner and all Ralphie wants is the Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun. But whenever he brings up the BB gun to anyone, he is promptly shut down and told “You’ll shoot your eye out,” repeatedly his hopes are dashed, but Ralphie can still dream. Ralphie gets a brainstorm when his teacher, Ms. Shields (fantastically played by Jenna Coker-Jones) hands out an assignment for her class to write an essay on what they would like for Christmas. Simple, Ralphie will write about the Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun, and everyone will be so impressed his parents will have no choice but to get him the gun. Well, not so simple as a series of hilarious sequences take place and Ralphie’s Christmas plans are not looking so certain.

At the same time, Ralphie’s father cast as The Old Man and brilliantly played by Lorenzo Rush, Jr., has finally won a prize for his relentless efforts at a crossword contest (thanks mainly to the help of his wife deftly played by Sara Reinecke). The prize might not be close to the generous cash awarded for the top spots, but it’s a prize – and it’s his prize, and he couldn’t be prouder of his tacky lamp of which its base is that of a show girl’s leg. He places it so it is displayed in the home’s from window and he is the envy of his neighbors.  

That lamp is just one more reason for holiday cheer in the Parker household.

The dynamics of Ralphie and his family 1940’s living is just so enjoyable to watch and the surrounding characters in this funny musical have so much to offer. Seasoned actor, Kevin McKillip, narrates the story as a grown up Ralphie looking back and reminds us why he considered one of the finest stage performers in the Chicago area. His timing is impeccable. And going back to Coker-Jones, she is most certainly another one of the show’s standouts, while Lorenzo Rush, Jr. is a thrill to watch in just about every scene he is graces us with – and, wow, his singing voice!

Performed in the round at Marriott theatre, A Christmas Story: The Musical is a holiday hit that has it all. From its nonstop laugh out loud scenes to its big, colorful song and dance numbers to its warm and moving story at its core that centers around family, this is a sure-fire treat to add to this Christmas season’s to do list.