Stage Right double-dog dares you to see ‘Christmas Story’ musical
Stage Right introduced “A Christmas Story, The Musical” to local audiences in 2017, and Artistic Director Tony Marino was fairly certain back then that the show would return this holiday season.
“After the enormous success of last year, we really felt we’d hit on a Christmas tradition,” says Marino, who is directing as Stage Right reprises its production Dec. 7-9 at the Lamp Theatre in Irwin.
Even the leading actors are returning to treat theater-goers to a retelling of the holiday classic movie made into a stage musical by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose works also include “Dear Evan Hansen” and “James and the Giant Peach.”
Wesley Heverly, 12, of Greensburg portrays Ralphie, the cute kid who dreams of getting an Official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air riﬂe for Christmas.
Savannah Bruno of West Leechburg plays Ralphie’s mother. Nick Lenz of Jeannette is The Old Man – the “quintessential 1940s husband, dad and working man,” he says.
Renata Marino of Greensburg, also Stage Right’s school coordinator and choreographer, portrays Miss Shields. The role of Ralphie’s younger brother, Randy, is shared this year by Colton Bruno and Brody Ross.
Besides his directing duties, Tony Marino plays Jean Shepherd, who was the narrator of the movie and also wrote the story.
“I’m a huge fan of Jean Shepherd, and that narration in the film is pure gold,” Marino says, “so I know I’m just standing there, but I’m working really hard to capture just a little of the magic that the narration has. Luckily, I get to say his beautiful words.”
Marino says the relationships captured in the show and the time period in which it took place – the early 1940s – give special meaning to the musical.
“Right around Christmas time, before the war, before a lot of things that would forever change the country – it’s sometimes a place you wouldn’t recognize,” he says, “and it dramatizes family and those relationships in a way that is sweet and innocent but not sappy or saccharine. The relationships are my favorite part of the show.”
Music adds insight
Bruno says the musical numbers in the show add a lot to the story.
“I think with the musical numbers, it gives the audience more of an insight to what the characters are thinking and how we all feel during the holiday season,” she says. “For example, I get to sing two very beautiful songs in the show that really give the audience an idea of what the mother is thinking, getting ready for Christmas, and how much she cares about and loves her boys.”
Lenz agreed that the music enriches the story.
“Pasek and Paul’s incredible score only enhances the sentiment of the movie, along with allowing the audience the opportunity to get inside the heads of all the characters in the show just a little bit more,” he says.
“The beauty of the musical is that the writers didn’t omit anything, they simply added on to enhance the storytelling. Major fans won’t be disappointed, it’s all still there,” he adds.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.