Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Thrill of the Cast Album

This morning on my way to work I did something I haven't done in a while: listened to a brand new cast album from a new musical. Mind you, I grew up doing this ritual (when they were actual albums). As a child, I loved going in my bedroom and playing a Broadway musical...seeing it all in my mind (as I lived in Texas and didn't see a real Broadway show until my first visit to NYC in summer of '84). (Yes....the boy in the striped shirt below loved musicals: cliche, I know.) By the time I was 14 - I had the joy of experiencing a musical I had written produced on stage and continued writing for the stage for years after that. For me, there is something truly glorious when a character becomes so impassioned by their thoughts, words cannot suffice and they must burst out into song. In the early '90s, I was part of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop where we would take movies and find certain scenes that we wanted to write a song for that moment.
Greg in 6th grade

Well that is what the creative team behind A Christmas Story, The Musical! have done. To say my family has always been obsessed with the movie it is based on would be an understatement. We couldn't wait for it to come on each year. And when it started the all day back-to-back run on TV, we would leave it on and continue watching it - reciting lines with the actors. 

Listening to the cast album of this show in my car, I could see every single moment vividly in my mind (and I've yet to see it on stage). The score is a mix of what is wonderful about a modern musical mixed with all that is brilliant from the Broadway of yesteryear. The movie it is based on had a musical underscoring that would punctuate certain moments in the movie and stage composer & lyricist Benj Pasek & Justin Paul have accomplished that very thing (and added to it) in their amazing score. I love the melodies, harmonic phrases, sweeping orchestrations and the little boy singing Ralphie Parker sends shivers through me with his not-yet-changed vocal range.

Scene from the musical
I believe there is a reason when certain things are mentioned again and again. About two months ago - A Christmas Story kept popping up in conversations I would have with people in the oddest of ways. (One of which was a friend of mine is listed as producer on this musical along with Peter Billingsley the actor who played young Ralphie in the movie version.) Maybe the constant discussion around this movie/musical was simply the universe crying out this story still has a lot of life left in it and I hope that a new audience gets to enjoy it now in its musical format for years to come. Already the version seen last season and this year's tour is getting great reviews as it heads towards Broadway for next season. 
Peter Billingsley: Then & Now

I love this story and now I love the music just as much and can't wait to see it! I know we are five weeks away from Christmas, but if you want to get in the mood - check out the tour schedule for this musical and if you can get your hands on a copy of the it! You'll be so glad you did.


  1. I wish the musical was coming closer to my city, so I can pick up a copy of the CD. I'll keep an eye on eBay, in the meantime!

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  3. Definitely watch for it, Leg Lamps. (Love your website BTW!)

  4. Ah, another Christmas Story movie addict like MY family! This film never gets old with us; we too love the 24 hour airing on TNT. I'd love to catch the stage show...someday.

  5. Sabrina - I can't wait for my drive home later so I can hear more of the show. ;-)