Mike Woody reviews ‘A Christmas Story: The Musical’ now at La Comedia through December 30.
Disclaimer: In wake of recent events in the entertainment industry, it’s worth noting that no real BB’s or ammunition of any type is used in this production.
If watching ‘A Christmas Story’ is an annual tradition, and if not it should be, then the Musical production is a must-see. Those who are somehow not familiar with the 1983 film will enjoy being introduced to a young boy’s mission to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. I triple-dog-dare anyone not to thoroughly enjoy ‘A Christmas Story: The Musical’ at La Comedia Dinner Theatre.
Whether it’s the utterance of ‘F-U-D-G-E,’ tongue frozen to the flagpole, the pink bunny suit or any other favorite scene, chances are its performed live on stage in this production. All that’s missing is any mention of a decoder ring or Ovaltine, but there’s still plenty of tasty sensations within the show to enjoy.
The role of Ralphie is played by Sam Kingrey, who pronounces ‘official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200 – shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time,’ with more ease than I typically say my name. Kingrey embodies the characters lust for the BB gun and hits the target vocally like a real sharpshooter. Maybe it’s from the mouthful of soap, but his voice sounded radiant. The role of Ralphie is shared with Ryder Parsons.
As The Old Man, John Dorney is %$#* near excellent, especially in his ability to rattle off a stream of obscenities more colorful than Picasso’s greatest masterpiece. Hanging in space, probably somewhere near Austin Landing are the remnants of Dorney’s tirade against the furnace. Dorney is most radiant when receiving the major award, (all the way from Italy?). The scene is really illuminating and has a leg-up against the rest of the show. He portrays a range of emotions from when the curtain opens and closes. Is beyond jubilant when admiring the major award from through the window, is irate at the Bumpuses dogs, and is overcome with grief when forced to part with his most prized possession.
His counterpart, Karie-Lee Sutherland brings much warmth as the Mother, especially to Randy (Jax Heritage/Maxtyn Barton) when bundling him up for school. For staying within the all- important margins of the role, plus her exquisite voice, I give Jessica Kaiser an A ++++++++++ and + as Miss Shields.
The musical element of the show, is highlighted by the ‘Ralphie to the Rescue’ scene, in which he proves the worth of the Red Ryder BB gun by saving several different people with his precise shooting skills. The ensemble also really shows off their dancing skills in ‘A Major Award,’ featuring a kick-line like no other.
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the traditional singing of ‘O Holy Night’ at La Comedia. I consider it a show in itself, worthy of the price of admission alone. The Christmas show is basically a two for one deal. This year the honor is bestowed upon Digger Howard, who never disappoints, and is no different this time. He’s like the second coming of Chris Kramer. Howard’s rendition is guaranteed to touch your soul. Personally, I prefer to fill up on turkey over Thanksgiving before thinking too much about Christmas, but I could listen to Howard sing ‘O Holy Night’ in the middle of summer and be filled with the Christmas spirit. Actually, I wouldn’t be opposed to him singing it year round after every show. It’s that good. If you miss hearing Digger Howard sing ‘O Holy Night’ you might as well just shoot your ear off, because it’s doing you no good anyway.
‘A Christmas Story: The Musical’ continues at La Comedia through December 30.