Review: A CHRISTMAS STORY at The John W. Engeman Theater
When you see a Christmas show at Northport's beautiful John W. Engeman Theater, you are in for a special treat. The charming main street is bustling and the exquisite Long Island venue goes all out with the decorations giving the excited patrons a festive atmosphere. Their offering this season is a stellar showing of fan favorite A Christmas Story, based on the 1983 movie, running through December 31st.
As we know, the musical tale, set in the 1940, centers on nine-year-old Ralphie Parker and his one desire for a Christmas present; a Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun. Joseph Robninette has definitely created a heartwarming book. You will find this story is reminiscent of the days before the over commercialization of Christmas where you fixate on that one perfect Christmas present. A simpler time, as they say.
Mara Newbery Greer superbly directs the large cast who are truly outstanding.
Adorably portraying Ralphie is Kaian Lilen. You will find the talented Kaian has a wonderful voice for the original Benj Pasek/Justin Paul score and keeps up with the best of them in the dance numbers choreographed by Ms. Greer. Among Ralphie's family is his father - "The Old Man" as he is referred to - hilariously, if a little intensely, portrayed strongly by Ryan M. Hunt. There is also Ralphie's caring mother stunningly portrayed by Rachel Gubow, and Ralphie's younger brother, Randy, adorably portrayed by Jackson Parker Gill. Special kudos to Ms. Gubow and Michael Fasciano, the show's narrator, for stepping into the production at the last minute. The show must go on, folks. And, the kids in this cast are very impressive. A few favorites from the kids that bring thunderous applause is their rendition on "Somewhere Hovering Over Indiana" and "When You're A Wimp". It is apparent this cast is enjoying their time in the production.
Also a highlight is Kyle Dixon's fantastic set. Rolling pieces and smart arrangements abound with stunning props designed by Callie Hester. John Burkland's atmospheric lighting and Laura Shubert's creative sound touches splendidly heighten the production and Dustin Cross' costumes are gorgeous. Now top that off with a brilliant live orchestra masterfully led by Musical Director Daniel Mollett. Indeed, this is a visually stunning show.
And so, A Christmas Story is certainly another hit for Long Island's John W. Engeman Theater. This is indeed a show for the family or a great holiday date night. A great cast and a favorite movie come to life make for a thrilling night of theatre.