Friday, December 2, through Sunday, December 11
Spotlight Theatre, 1800 Seventh Avenue, Moline IL
Nominated for three 2013 Tony Awards including Best Musical and described by Broadway World as “a twinkling Christmas delight,” the yuletide treat A Christmas Story: The Musical closes the 2022 season at Moline's Spotlight Theatre with its December 2 through 11 engagement, the show's score by the Oscar- and Tony-winning team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul inspiring the New York Times to rave, “You'd have to have a Grinch-sized heart not to feel a smile spreading across your face.”
Based on the 1983 film classic and set in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, in the 1940s, A Christmas Story: The Musical follows nine-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts: an Official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Rebuffed at every turn with a similar echoing response, Ralphie plots numerous schemes to achieve his desperate desire for the coveted BB gun. Meanwhile, all of the iconic scenes that audiences fondly recall from the movie are found in its musical adaptation: Ralphie's friend Flick getting his tongue stuck to the flagpole; his brother Randy getting dressed in his suffocating snowsuit; the bullies Farkus and Dill; the leg-lamp Major Awards; Ralphie's bunny suit; the family dinner at a Chinese restaurant; and many, many more.
With its score running the gamut from gentle ballads to show-stopping ensemble numbers, and its songs including such titles as “Before the Old Man Comes Home,” “When You're a Wimp,” and the delightfully inevitable “You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!”, A Christmas Story: The Musical received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for Pasek's and Paul's compositions. Though the duo had already enjoyed critical success for their musical adaptations of works such as Dogfight and James & the Giant Peach, Pasek and Paul had their first Broadway smash with the 2015 musical Dear Evan Hansen, which won six 2016 Tonys including Best Musical and Best Score. Later that year, they served as songwriters for the score to the film La La Land, eventually earning an Oscar for “City of Stars” and a nomination for “Audition.” And Pasek and Paul followed that movie success by writing songs for movies including the current Christmas Carol adaptation Spirited and 2017's sleeper smash The Greatest Showman, which earned the duo another Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe as lyricists for the radio hit “This Is Me.”
Directing A Christmas Story: The Musical is Spotlight Theatre favorite Christopher Tracy, whose recent stage roles for the theatre have included Max Bialystock in The Producers and Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors, and who helmed the holiday hit Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical in 2019. With the roles of young Ralphie and Randy played, respectively by Liam Knobloch and Brighton Greim, the boys' parents are portrayed by Doug Alderman and Spotlight Theatre co-owner Sara Tubbs, while Quad City Arts' executive director Kevin Maynard (the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's 2022 Silent Sky) portrays narrator Jean Shepherd, who co-scripted A Christmas Story's 1983 film and wrote the semi-autobiographical stories the movie was based on.
Additional members of Tracy's ensemble, meanwhile, include Aaron Baker, Ted Brown, Mallory Carslake, Antonio Casas, Rooney Dennis, Will Emerle, Amelia Fischer, Sarah Greim, Noah Hill, Melodie Hoffman, Isaiah Jensen, Kristen Marietta, Kenrick Senne, Stephanie Truitt, Cooper Tubbs, Grace Wiborg, and Makis Witt, with a gaggle of schoolyard kids enacted by Avie Birdsell, Anna Harris, Sophia Mitchell, Kay Tracy, and Meyer Wickoff.
A Christmas Story: The Musical runs at the Moline theatre from December 2 through 11, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Admission is $20-25, and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)912-7647 and visiting TheSpotlightTheatreQC.com.