Theatre Review "A Christmas Story, The Musical" At Engeman Theater
Put Seeing Engeman Theater’s Latest Productionon Your Yuletide Wish List.
The John W. Engeman Theater’s magical production of A Christmas Story, The Musical, is a holiday must-see for the whole family. The cast is bursting with talent, including an abundance of charismatic children who will wow you with their singing, acting, and dancing abilities.
Based on the beloved 1983 film A Christmas Story, this holiday musical has a book by Joseph Robinette and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. This show had a Broadway run during the 2012 Christmas season, an engagement at Madison Square Garden in 2013, and a successful production at the Engeman theater in 2014.
Leigh Brown, Bob Clark, and Jean Shepherd wrote the original movie based on Shephard’s book: In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. Michael Fasciano gave a heartwarming performance as Jean Shepherd, the legendary radio personality who serves as the narrator in this coming-of-age Christmas musical.
A Christmas Story, The Musical takes place in 1940 in the fictitious small town of Hohman, Indiana. The riotous plot revolves around Ralphie Parker, a likable, strong-willed nine-year-old with an overactive imagination. He only wants one gift for Christmas: an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Kaian Lilien gave a powerhouse performance as Ralphie Parker. “Ralphie to the Rescue” was a spectacular musical number where Ralphie, wearing a sparkling cowboy outfit designed by the amazingly gifted Dustin Cross, fantasizes about how he and his prized Christmas BB gun will save the day.
Rachel Gubow was warm and likable as Mother. Ms. Gubow has a beautiful singing voice and gave a touching performance during her solo, “What a Mother Does.”
Jackson Parker Gill as Randy, Ralphie’s finicky little brother, had some of the funniest lines in the show, and he delivered them with perfect comedic timing. The audience roared with laughter when his mother stuffed him into a one-piece snowsuit.
In the performance I saw on Saturday evening, Cayel Tregeagle played Ralphie’s father, who is referred to as “The Old Man.” Mr. Tregeagle aced the part, and one of the show’s highlights was the musical number, “A Major Award,” in which “The Old Man” celebrates the fact that he won a sexy leg lamp! The company joined Mr. Tregeagle using life-sized light-up leg lamps as dance partners. The audience wildly applauded when the dancers used this one-legged prop in a kickline routine.
Another standout fantasy musical number was “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out,” where Miss Shields, Ralphie’s teacher, brilliantly portrayed by Lanene Charters, dons a flapper dress, and she and the company perform a breathtaking tap dance routine. The audience was amazed by the talent of the young tap dancers.
Kyle Dixon’s movable scenic design allowed for the necessary quick scene changes, and the set for the Parker’s home was warm and inviting, evoking the feeling that we are in a 1940s-era home. I loved the cozy kitchen with the matching checkered curtains and tablecloth and the under-the-sink cabinet, which was big enough for Randy to hide in. On Christmas morning, the magnificent tree, all lit up and decorated in the living room, was a beautiful sight to behold.
Kudos to Mara Newbery Greer, who directed and choreographed this musical. She brought out the best in this enormous cast, and the stunning result was a top-notch, polished production. The band, under the astute direction of Daniel Mollett, meshed perfectly with the singing and dancing.
A standing ovation goes out to the stellar ensemble, including Lindsay Lee Alhady, Matthew Blum, Finn Brown, Sy Chounchaisit, Jordan Coates, Jake Cooney, Bobby M. Davis, Anthony De Marte, Mackenzie Germain, James Garrett Hill, Sofia Jarmel, Kayla Kennedy, Max Lamberg, Quinn Oliver Lessing, Timmy Lewis, Paige Mathers, Katie Pohlman, Liam Polani, Tony Romero, Raquel Livia Sciacca, Avery Sell, Luca Silva, and Tara Sweeney.
Saturday night’s audience showed their appreciation for thisJackson Parker Gill (Randy) and Rachel Gubow (Mother) spectacular holiday production by giving it a rousing standing ovation. The show runs through December 31. Tickets can be purchased by calling 631-261-2900, going online at www.engemantheater.com, or visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.