INDIANAPOLIS — You may have seen “A Christmas Story” a million times throughout the holiday season, but you’ve never seen it quite like this.
Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre rings in the holiday this year with “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” based on the iconic 1983 film. Like the movie, which you can find nearly any hour of the day somewhere on cable from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the stage production is set in the 1940s in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana. It follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest for the one and only thing he wants for Christmas – an Official Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle. After his mother rebuffs his request with “You’ll shoot your eye out!,” Ralphie hatches a number of schemes to convince his parents otherwise.
The musical hits all the high points of the film … the flagpole incident, “oh, fudge” fiasco, the pink bunny suit and, of course, the leg lamp. But it also introduces a wide-ranging score of songs that are sweet and silly.
Beef & Boards regular Eddie Curry guides you through it all as the narrator, memorizing an impressive amount of dialogue that weaves the well-known tale. He’ll also pop up as bit characters throughout the show.
Ben Kistner, a seventh-grader at Zionsville West Middle School, makes his Beef & Boards debut as Ralphie. He’s comfortable in the spotlight and easily sings his way through the complex “Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun.” He even nails the physical comedy portions of the role, especially when mom’s warning seems to have been prophetic.
Speaking of Mother, Amy Bodnar is absolutely brilliant as the not-so-typical-for-the-1940s housewife. She conveys utmost patience with the Old Man as well as adoration and devotion to her two kids. And when it’s her turn to put her voice on full display, it will just melt your heart. Have a tissue or two ready for “What a Mother Does” and “Just Like That.”
While Mother may bring the waterworks, the Old Man will have you rolling in the aisles. From his “expletive”-laden ramblings and roarings to his inexplicable devotion to his “major award,” Don Farrell brings Ralphie’s dad fully to life on stage. He puts everything he’s got into “The Genius on Cleveland Street,” though it ranks second on the Old Man’s breakout moments.
Farrell and the ensemble cast perform the highlight of the production during the song and dance number “A Major Award.” Not to spoil the moment for anyone, but expect plenty of leg lamps. Kudos to choreographer Ron Morgan.
Rounding out the Parker family is Fender Brokamp as Ralphie’s brother, Randy. He’s definitely got Randy’s whining and worrying down.
The rest of the younger members of the cast, both Ralphie’s friends and foes, are a treat to see perform. Their ensemble number with Ralphie’s teacher Miss Shields (Lanene Charters), “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out,” set in a fantasy 1930s speakeasy, involves a complicated tap number. But the youngsters rise to the challenge and never miss a beat.
“A Christmas Story: The Musical” is on stage through Dec. 31, with the final performance a New Year’s celebration that includes dancing to live music after the show and a champagne toast at midnight, followed by a breakfast buffet. Tickets are selling out fast, so if you want to make the show a part of your holiday, get your tickets at beefandboards.com sooner than later. We triple-dog dare you.