|Joe West & Johnny Rabe|
What a great time we had!
With a book by Joe Robinette and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, the three have taken the original story of Jean Shepherd's life of growing up in Indiana and brought it to life as a wonderful musical. The expected moments from the 1983 movie are there, but with a magical 'punch' of seeing them live and on stage. From the tongue stuck to the flag pole, to the famous line of 'you'll shoot your eye out' - it is all there. John Rando's direction brings such heart to the piece by giving audiences that love the movie what they want to see and yet enhancing it through song and dance. I found the entire cast to be completely charming. We saw Joe West go on as Ralphie and thought he was wonderful as the boy wanting to get his BB gun for Christmas. (The part is shared with Johnny Rabe who plays most performances.) Zac Ballard as his little brother stole our hearts (and his scenes) and John Bolton and Erin Dilly were the perfect pair of parents to these small boys. I also grew up watching The Wonder Years on TV, so seeing Dan Lauria as the older Ralphie/narrator was a huge bonus.
Sometimes movie musicals leave us longing for the original, but I never felt that once. The music was a mix of old time fun and sounds of present day Broadway. The singing, the dancing - all was the perfect thing to get us in the holiday mood. I'm so thankful to the producers (one of which I personally know) for working so hard to get this show to Broadway. One of those is the original Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) from the movie. I believe it could become a staple for the New York scene for many years to come.
On a personal note, the ending truly touched me. It was ten years ago I lost my dad the week before Christmas. This show is about family and memories and I found myself wiping away a tear as I missed my own dad by the end.
Go see this show. You'll be so glad that you did!