Date night for these ’80s babies: A Christmas Story at the Engeman is pure gold
Typically, when I express interest in seeing a Broadway (or off Broadway) show, my husband suggests that I go with a girlfriend. And I do. But when I told him that A Christmas Story was at the Engeman Theater this month, he agreed (happily) to join me, so we planned a little date night. The 1983 movie is one of his favorites and we’ve watched it together during the holiday season every year since we met. In fact, his father gifted him A Christmas Story on DVD a few years ago because he knew it was a well-loved film, and my husband opened it and laughed graciously, despite us giving our DVD player away a while back, now that nearly everything can be streamed.
We arrived at the theater about thirty minutes before playtime, taking a walk to The Firefly Artists to see the famous leg lamp in the window on our way. Upon arrival, my husband ordered an Old Fashioned and I got the show’s signature cocktail with rum, apple cider and a cinnamon stick (yum). We stood at one of the round tables in the cozy theater bar, surrounded by warming holiday decorations and a hot cocoa stand.
Attending these shows has become a bit of a personal care experience for me. It always manages to feel sentimental and uplifting. Like a reboot from the hectic world outside those theater doors. Driving just a few minutes from home to see a full-scale musical production still isn’t lost on me, I guess.
The show was everything we hoped for – nostalgic, funny, entertaining and touching. You know the story by now, I’m sure. Young Ralphie Parker daydreams about his ideal Christmas gift, a Red Ryder air rifle (that can potentially shoot his eye out). Between his doting mother, gruff father, and whining little brother Randy, the Parker family is perfectly relatable and reminiscent of years past.
Ralphie, played by Kaian Lilien, is a lovable character with an excellent singing voice and stage presence. His gentle nature contrasted perfectly with his mischievous yet heroic dreams of saving the day with his very own BB gun. And Randy, played by the adorable Jackson Parker Gill, really made us laugh, mostly because he reminded us of our own rambunctious (and sometimes squealing) four-year-old son who can, on occasion, also be found hiding in cabinets and refusing to eat his dinner. When getting ready for school (with Randy in his giant snowsuit) was compared to “preparing for extended deep sea diving” by the narrator (adult Ralphie), that certainly hit home.
Ralphie’s teacher, Miss Shields, stole the show. Played by Lanene Charters, whose past roles include Broadway’s Mamma Mia!, she was captivating and simply hilarious. The tap dancing scene was really when our jaws hit the floor. The talent of these kids! Their performances were just as powerful as the adults onstage.
When the show ended and we prepped for the standing ovation, my husband and I looked at each other and laughed. It was so good. A story set in the 1940s that somehow rings true for two kids of the ’80s, who spent every holiday season of their youth (and adulthood) watching the movie over and over again. And then I looked around at the audience and noticed that nearly everyone had the same exact grins on their faces.
Pure gold, really.
A Christmas Story, The Musical will play the following performance schedule until December 31: Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Some Wednesday and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $85 for Saturday evenings and $80 for all other performances. They may be purchased by calling 631-261-2900, going online at www.engemantheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.