By Ms. Hoo Sook Hwang
ST. PAUL (Dec. 8, 2014) — A Christmas Story, creatively and musically adapted from a 1983 movie, was transformed into an unbelievably talent filled musical, which opened at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 28, and plays through Dec. 28.
The Eurocentric configuration of the 1940’s, suburban family’s Christmas was endearing, lovable and joyfully entertaining. The delightful and nostalgic story told through the lens of Ralphe, the main character, was heart felt and charming. Once again, I was reminded of the abundance talent, which floods the Twin-Cities and provides incredible opportunities for patrons to experience exceptional theater.
The cast features: Gary Briggle as Jean Shepherd, Billie Wildrick as Mother, Jake Goodman as Ralphie, James Ciccarelle as Randy, Dieter Bierbrauer as The Old Man and Erin Schwab as Miss Shields. The children, including, Jake Goodman (playing Ralphe) took my breath away as they danced first-rate numbers, sang in harmony and wove humor in at every turn. The musical was incredibly clever and beamed with activity. It was one of the best musicals I’ve seen with young people overshooting expectations.
The production’s creative team fashioned scenery, musical numbers, costumes and lighting, which showcased the best of the Ordway’s capabilities. Each twist of the story invites audience members to call on childhood yearnings and remember what it’s like to believe with deep hope that a wish can be fulfilled. Easy to relate to, the musical portrays nuanced family roles along side familiar family struggles.
The cumulative experiences, narrated through a child’s eyes creates feelings of empathy and remind the audience of ways that comical absurdity is a part of every day life. Besides hilarity throughout, I was positively awe struck by the cast of remarkably gifted children who took command of the production from the very beginning. Undeniably, A Christmas Story was time well spent.