REVIEW (EncoreMichigan.com): ‘A Christmas Story’ at Detroit’s Fox Theatre

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 10.36.19 PM.pngDETROIT, Mich. – One reason for the enduring success of the 1983 movie A Christmas Story – recently adapted for the stage as a musical with a Tony-nominated book by Joseph Robinette and Tony-nominated music and lyrics by U-M grad songwriting team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul – is the way it frankly acknowledges how a child’s powerlessness often butts up against his earnest dreams.

 For what can a 9-year-old boy do when he desperately wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, but his only path to getting one involves convincing the adults in his life, or Santa, that he should get one? Sure, he can try to make his case; but when everyone reflexively dismisses his desire, saying, “You’ll shoot your eye out,” the boy turns to the only means left to him: manipulation. And when that doesn’t work, an eruption of frustrated, childish, physical anger seems inevitable.

Set in a small Indiana town in 1940, in the snowy weeks leading up to Christmas, A Christmas Story was originally inspired by the writings of storyteller and radio personality Jean Shepherd. Though Ralphie (Austin Molinaro) anchors the narrative, A Christmas Story is, more broadly, a comedic tale of family dynamics, as well as an exploration of the world kids inhabit when adults aren’t around. There are bullies, needy little brothers, misinformation, and “triple-dog dares” to contend with daily. Meanwhile, at home, Ralphie’s blustery “Old Man” (Christopher Swan) and dutiful mother (Susannah Jones) square off over an “award” that Ralphie’s father has won in a contest: a lamp that looks like a woman’s leg, sheathed in a fishnet stocking that Ralphie’s dad insists on placing at the house’s front window. READ THE REST HERE

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