By Christopher Heide
"You’ll shoot your eye out!" That iconic line from the now classic holiday movie, A Christmas Story, is brought to life in this nostalgic, energetic stage production. Little Ralphie’s quest for a Red Rider BB Gun returns to the stage it was created on 4 years ago. A Christmas Story is a feel-good production, apropos for audience members of all ages.
According to the press release, this Tony nominated musical has returned home for the holidays and features a bevy of local talent. “With direction by Seattle’s own Brandon Ivie, (the associate director for the show’s Broadway premiere) and choreography by Mara Newbery, this sensational hit stars real-life husband and wife Dane Stokinger and Jessica Skerritt as The Old Man and Mother, alongside Mark Jeffrey James Weber as Ralphie and Brandon Oke as Randy.”
“We could not be more thrilled to have A Christmas Story back on our stage,” said 5th Avenue Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong. “Developing new musicals is at the heart of what we do here at The 5th, so it is exceptionally rewarding when a musical like A Christmas Story experiences such great success across the country, and then returns to our stage. We are excited to give our Seattle stars the chance to bring this show to life.”
While the adults definitely hold their own in this production, A Christmas Story is ultimately a throwback to the kind of Christmas we all experience as children. Given that the story is told completely from young Ralphie’s point of view, a lack of talented child actors would have been noticeable. Fortunately, not only do the children in the cast hold their own amongst the seasoned adult performers, in several instances, they often steal the show.
Although a little corny in moments, the show is overall an enjoyable experience. The best moments come when the show either plays direct homage to the movie (in fact several iconic moments from the movie are recreated verbatim) or when the she gets really wacky, delving into several; extended dream sequences. One of the best moments of show comes when the majority of the children are engaged in an extended Chicago style song-and-dance number. The level of choreography being thrown at the children is nothing short of impressive and they perform every moment of the show with great aplomb.
Once again, the 5th Avenue Theatre has become the destination for high quality entertainment. While not as critically acclaimed as their last production, A Christmas Story is a worthy successor to Kinky Boots. It’s exactly the kind funny, heartwarming and escapist material we all need during the holiday season. Given the fact that downtown Seattle was enthralled in a state of violent protest during the premier of this show, the subject material could not come at a more welcome time.