‘A Christmas Story, the Musical’ is a better holiday gift than a leg lamp

The Red Ryder Carbine still tops one kid's wish list.
The Red Ryder Carbine still tops one kid’s wish list.

Like the classic 1983 film, “A Christmas Story, the Musical” is a funny, heartwarming tale of old-fashioned 1940s holiday magic. Be warned, however, that this Broadway-caliber musical boasts plenty of nostalgia and humor — for adults. The sentimentality will be wasted on the very young.

At the center of the story is 9-year-old Ralphie who, despite being warned by every adult in his life that he’ll “shoot [his] eye out,” desperately wants a Red Ryder BB Gun.

Jake Lucas is delightfully awkward as Ralphie, contending with schoolyard bullies, a cranky father and a brother whose “arms won’t go down.” Lucas’ genuine exasperation as he tries to manifest his Christmas dream will resonate with any adult who still recalls the very real challenges of being a child in a grown-up’s world.

Dan Lauria (best known as the dad in TV’s “The Wonder Years”) delivers a spot-on performance as the narrator, while John Bolton and Erin Dilly shine as The Old Man and Mother, respectively. Caroline O’Connor adds great pizzazz as Ralphie’s teacher Miss Shields.

The gang’s all here in this faithful adaptation — even Aunt Clara’s bunny suit (“he looks like a pink nightmare!”), in which you can be photographed in the lobby, makes it from the film to the stage.

There’s something distinctly magical about a musical at Christmastime, and this one in particular hits home. Ralphie’s Red Ryder has never looked so good.

“A Christmas Story, the Musical”
Through Dec. 8
Wang Theatre
270 Tremont St., Boston
$45-$125, 866-348-9738
citicenter.org


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