'A Christmas Story, The Musical' on Broadway
By jill sieracki
For many, the 24-hour television marathon of A Christmas Story is as much a holiday tradition as egg nog and “Jingle Bells.” Now, the beloved story of Ralphie Parker and his quest for a Red Ryder Carbine-Action BB gun is on Broadway, through December 30. “We’re trying to bring a new seasonal show to the world,” says Peter Billingsley, who starred as Ralphie in the classic 1983 film and is a producer on the Broadway production. “It’s a fun show and it’s definitely a different experience than the movie.”
A musical adaptation of the Jean Shepherd holiday classic stars Erin Dilly (Nice Work if You Can Get It), John Bolton (Spamalot), and Dan Lauria (Broadway’s Lombardi and television’s The Wonder Years) as well as a number of exceptionally talented kids as Ralphie, Randy, and their peers. “They have a skill set that’s nothing like what myself and the other kids had in that movie,” says Billingsley, who was born in New York and still has family in the area. “They sing, they dance, they’ve got to be able to perform a show for two hours straight—the level of talent really blows me away.”
The production incorporates many of the film’s most famous scenes—a visit to Santa at Higbee’s department store and Chinese duck for Christmas dinner—and iconic lines, but it takes the film’s outlandish moments, such as Ralphie’s battle against Black Bart and The Old Man’s beloved leg lamp, and elevates them into choreographed song-and-dance numbers. “When you think of the tone of this movie and the fantasy sequences, there’s almost a musical-like quality to the film,” says Billingsley. “There’s an eccentricity to the movie that I think lends itself very well to the stage.”
Billingsley, who is making his Broadway debut with A Christmas Story, has had an extensive career beyond the holiday classic, serving as an executive producer for TBS’s Sullivan & Son, Four Christmases, and Iron Man as well as director on Couples Retreat. “I have been fortunate enough to have a career outside [A Christmas Story the film] so I’ve been sort of protective of it,” he says. “There’s been a lot of ideas, but I’ve never done anything until this and it’s because it really made sense and because I think it was an extension of and not a retread of.” Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St.; visit broadway.com
photography by Carol Rosegg
Behind the scenes with Sigourney Weaver in her Gotham cover shoot.