“A Christmas Story – The Musical” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ November 26, 2015


Broadway Across America, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

It’s easy to feel sorry for ASU Gammage Executive Director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack who tries to present what audiences here demand like when she was asked to include a holiday show on her annual Broadway series.

Unfortunately, this season the only touring holiday show available was “A Christmas Story – The Musical,” a 2010 Broadway disaster based on the 1983 film that took it’s time to become a holiday classic on cable television.

The touring production struggles valiantly with the inane story and an inexpensive production doesn’t do much to put local audiences in the holiday mood.  The show boasts lots of stupid problems like perpetuating the sick notion that a Chop Suey diner is the only restaurant open on Christmas.  The show tries to be family holiday entertainment but the story seems risqué for children.  A stodgy teacher transforms into a sexy dancer in one scene and the show is dotted with raunchy language including several profanities that is inappropriate for small children, the musical’s intended audience.

There’s a forgettable score that sounds reminiscent of better holiday tunes and nothing scenically gives the show a beautiful holiday look.  The sets are tiny for the gigantic ASU Gammage stage since only about half of the stage width is used.  Drably ordinary costumes don’t help the show’s blah look nor does harsh, colorless lighting.

The trite story focuses on the Parker family in Cleveland.  Ralphie, one of two children, has his sights set on a Red Ryder BB Gun.  His worrisome mother fears the gun will allow him to shoot his eye out but his fretful father is less concerned.  Dreary and predicable things happen that divert the story away from Ralphie’s gift desire including a bizarre leg lamp his father wins, obnoxious pink bunny pajamas Ralphie receives from a well meaning aunt, and a phony department store Santa.

There are a few good performances including Myles Moore who alternates as Ralphie and was quite effective opening night in the role.  There’s a tap dancing chorus of little kids who are really great but most of the adult roles are stymied by such poor writing that no performer could turn them into anything interesting.

“A Christmas Story” plays through Sunday, November 29 at ASU Gammage and earns two stars out of five.  Even little kids will be squirmy at the show that seems to last an eternity.  For tickets, call the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-3434 or order online at www.ASUGammage.com.

Grade: D