An annual event for many involves watching holiday movies in the build-up to Christmas. While that works for many, a live version of a favorite movie definitely keeps audiences excited with anticipation of their favorite scenes. “A Christmas Story–the Musical” currently plays at the B&B Theatres near Shawnee Mission Park.
Who doesn’t know Ralphie and his quest for his Red Rider Beebe Rifle? How about that Pepto Bismol Pink rabbit outfit that Ralphie’s aunt made? Remember the tongue getting stuck to a metal pole just before Christmas vacation? Do you remember the neighbor’s dogs stealing the Christmas turkey? And, no one can forget the old man’s lamp, shaped like a mannequin’s leg?
It’s all there, but with music, song, and dance added. Run, don’t walk to your phone or computer to book tickets to Music Theatre Kansas City Pro’s presentation of “A Christmas, Story–The Musical” Fear not, the show caters to families, so there are no strong or suggestive words, no nudity, no innuendo, just plain old fashioned fun and laughs.
“A Christmas Story–the Musical” made its stage debut at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre as it made its way toward Broadway where it grabbed three Tony nominations including Best Musical, and Best Story from a Book. Sadly, the Christmas-themed story loses a lot of appeal once Christmas passes. Now, the show returns to Kansas City for a two week run through Dec. 19.
Directors Julie Danielson and Weston Thomas teamed to re-create the charm of the story that plays well in Theatre 7. The production team set a new standard with strong projected backgrounds, a live orchestra, sharp choreography, nice time-correct costumes, and good lighting and sound so that the production just rolls along seamlessly.
One of several musical numbers fit well into the story and bring laughs and pizzazz to keep the story moving along. What’s more amazing, an audience with lots of younger viewers were quite throughout and focused on the stage action throughout both acts.
As the story-teller, Marshall Rimann narrates the story, adds bits and asides that explain the thoughts of Ralphie as he builds his case for a Red Rider Beebe gun. The famous line, “You’ll shoot your eye-out” comes from several sources, dampening Ralphie’s spirit and desperation as Christmas approaches. Rimann perfectly narrates Ralphie’s past and helps by dropping Ralphie’s quiet thoughts.
To help with the comedy, one of Kansas City’s best character actors, Mike Ott plays Ralphie’s father, generally referred to as The Old Man. Ott’s solo about winning a contest is legendary. His character definitely elicits the most laughs. Perfectly cast, Ott excels in the part.
As the calmer side of the family, Andrea Boswell-Burns provides the glue that keeps the family together. Her songs are quieter and calming to balance the over-the-top Old Man and give balance to the story. Boswell-Burns’ possesses a beautiful soprano voice plays well off Ralphie and the Old Man.
Because the story centers on Ralphie and his quest to secure his heart’s desire, the casting needed a perfect selection for both Ralphie and his younger brother, Randy. For these two integral parts, Kamryn Henderson and Matthew Lamb’s voices blended well in their musical numbers. The height variance also helped create the illusion of older and younger brothers. But, make no mistake, Ralphie remains the central character in “A Christmas Story-the Musical.” As such, Henderson excels with a fantastic vocal performance so advanced for his age. As a young thespian, Ralphie carries the show with a strong stage presence in a cast of seasoned actors.
Also, a major part of the show lies in the hands of Ralphie’s teacher, Miss Shields. Sit back and prepare to laugh whenever she enters a scene. In the hands of a local favorite performer, Franci Telamantez-Witte, her scenes take the singing/dancing educator to new heights with lots of unexpected fun.
Overall, the show can charm the most difficult viewer. From the audience reactions throughout the show, they delighted with the presentation and awarded lots of laughter outbursts, thunderous applause, and many people standing as the curtain calls began. When a show charms adults and children, it’s winner. “A Christmas Story-The Musical” runs through Dec. 19. As the audience exits, several said they were coming back. Several said they wanted to being someone to see the show. When exit talk is positive and comes from smiling faces, the show is a guaranteed hit.
The cast for “A Christmas Story” is: Jean Shepherd/narrator, Marshall Rimann; Ralphie Parker, Kamryn Henderson; The Old Man, Mike Ott; Mother, Andrea Boswell-Burns; Miss Schields, Franci Telamantez-Witte; Randy Parker, Matthew Lamb; Santa, Michael O’Brien; Schwartz, Rowan Bartelt; Flick, Gage Pfannenstiel; Scut Farkus, Finley Pennington; Grover Dill, Kellen Serrano; Esther Jane, Maddie Hendricks; Mary Beth, Jennie Quarrato; Nancy, Holly Lichtenauer.
Ensemble members are: Stephanie Ainsworth, Cally Beckman, Kameryn Behrend, Karen Blackmon, Ashley Burns, Mark A. Burbank, Ryan Dervin, Michael O’Brien, Ethan Patterson, Terrace Wyatt, Jr.; School Kids Ensemble: Jay Allen, Jillian Downing; Robert Milligan; Kids Ensemble: Keaton Burns, Sutton Hamm, Quinn Kamphaus, Sutton Mangold.
Members of “A Christmas Story-The Musical” are: Julie Danielson, Debbie Allen, Kaytee Dietrich, Michael Meier, Justin Crossman, Chacko Finn, Ken Tysick, Chris Clements, Kana Jackson, Charlie Betzelberger.
The Creative Team: Director/Music Director, Julie Danielson; Director, Weston Thomas; Choreographer, Trevor Downey, Stage Manager, Leo Earl; Assistant Stage Manager, Meredith Lamb; Lighting Designer, Brad Hull; Projections Designer, Conor Tierney; Sound & Lighting Technicians, Eric Lugenbeel, Lili Garcia, Parker Johnson; Costumes & Props, Libby Bradley, Colleen Markman; Set Preparation, Edward Jackson, Jake Elliott, Tim Elliott; MTKC Founder/Executive Director, Cary Danielson Pandzik.
Tags: B & B Theatres, Music Theatre Kansas City, Music Theatre Kansas City Pro, “A Christmas Story-the Musical”, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City, Live Theatre Kansas City, Kansas City Musical