by Beki Pineda
A CHRISTMAS STORY – Book by Joseph Robinetti; Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Directed by Scott Beyette. Produced by BDT Stage (5501 Arapahoe) through January 5. Tickets available at 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com.
Four stories (“A Duel in the Snow”, “The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message”, “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art”, and “Grover Dill and the Tasmanian Devil) from his collection of radio scripts translated into a novel (“In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash”) written by radio commentator Jean Shepard were turned into a stand alone novel in 1966. Shepard was the Garrison Keillor of his time, turning his childhood reminiscences into amusing nostalgic stories. The fictional town of Hohman, Indiana was Shepard’s Lake Wobegon. The novel prompted Shepard’s wife, Leigh Brown, and friend Bob Clark to collaborate on a screenplay which was released as A CHRISTMAS STORY in 1983. This in turn was turned into a musical premiering in 2009, retooled by Pasek and Paul (of DEAR EVAN HANSEN and GREATEST SHOWMAN fame), finally making it to Broadway in 2012. It has been a staple of the holiday genre of plays ever since. As a side note, Peter Billingsley who was the original Ralphie in the movie version was one of the producers of the Broadway version 29 years later.
Nothing significant has changed between the movie and the play except the addition of music that enhances the comedy and nostalgia of the show. Local favorite Wayne Kennedy plays Shepard himself who serves as the Narrator of the story looking back from the present at this significant Christmas. He and his younger self Ralphie (performed by Ned Swartz on the night reviewed) sing of his desire for the infamous Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 shot Range Model BB gun with a compass in the stock which would allow him to become a “hero” in case his younger brother got kidnapped or his teacher got assaulted by a tiger. Scott Beyette plays the harried Old Man of the family who tries hard to maintain control of his and his family’s life – not always with complete success. His passion for entering contests results in the winning of “A Major Award” which turns out to be the gaudy, slightly bawdy leg lamp of fame. Mother (Joannie Brosseau-Rubald) is much more understanding of Ralphie and his annoying little brother Randy. Even the infamous tongue on a flagpole scene is enacted. Alicia Meyers plays Mrs. Shields, the kid’s teacher who turns into a gun moll right in front of your eyes and warns, “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.”
BDT has rounded up an amazing collection of talented Boulder area young actors for this show. Their gifts at choreography and song keep pace with the adult actors beside them. They come to life in “When You’re a Wimp” and “Up on Santa’s Lap.”
The show calls for a complicated set design that includes the Parker home, a car, the school room, Santa’s House at the department store with its iconic slide, and a Chinese restaurant. As always, Amy Campion is up to the task with a smoothly operating set that changes quickly before your eyes. The choreography by McKayla Marso is smart, inventive and allows the kids to look as polished and professional as the more experienced adult dancers. They looked good!
A family show that brings a holiday tradition to life on the stage. A great one to share with the kids – in spite of the Old Man’s (blanked out) curse words that are still hovering somewhere over Lake Michigan.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!