Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


A Christmas Story, The Musical
San Francisco Playhouse
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Bright Star and Shakespeare in Love and Patrick's review of Watch on the Rhine


Abby Haug, Jonah Broscow, and Ryan Drummond
Photo by Jessica Palopoli
San Francisco Playhouse is presenting Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Joseph Robinette's charming A Christmas Story, The Musical based on the film. I remember listening to Jean Shephard on the radio when I was growing up, telling stories like the ones that were the basis for this film and musical, in particular, 9-year-old Ralphie's quest for an official Red Ryder Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle.

A Christmas Story faithfully follows the slender plotline of the popular 1993 MGM movie scene by scene. The plot centers on Ralphie Parker (Jonah Broscow) who wants a BB gun for Christmas. But first, he'll have to navigate a maniacal department store Santa, a now infamous leg lamp, a "triple dog dare," a tongue stuck on a frozen flagpole, and a mother (Abby Haug) who is afraid he will put his eye out with the BB gun.

Director Susi Damilano has pulled out all the stops, with '40s-era costuming by Abra Berman fitting perfectly, on the mark stage design by Jacquelyn Scott and choreography by Kimberly Richards, and beautiful singing by a talented cast. It's fun to watch Ralphie work slyly along his path to the BB gun over two and a half hours with intermission. There are charming songs such as "Up on Santa's Lap" and "It All Comes Down to Christmas."

Jonah Broscow shines as Ralphie Parker, expertly singing, dancing, and acting his way though. I was reminded of Peter Billingsley in the film version. Ryan Drummond and Abby Haug are outstanding as Ralphie's father and mother. Christopher Reber is the narrator (author Jean Shephard in the film) who holds things together with a charming and authoritative delivery to move the story along. As schoolteacher Miss Shields, Katrina Lauren McGraw gives an excellent performance.

The adult ensemble is fantastic, called upon to be everything from parents to cowboys to Santa's elves. Their sense of play is at times amazing. The young ensemble holds their own against their more experienced adult counterparts, and Dave Dobrusky excellently leads a five-piece band.

A Christmas Story, The Musical, through January 13, 2017, at San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post Street (2nd floor of the Kensington Park Hotel), San Francisco CA. For tickets, call 415-677-9596 or visit www.sfplayhouse.org. The company's next production will be Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday.


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