This time last year, three Raleigh theater groups, presenters and competitors—North Carolina Theatre, Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy and Broadway Series South—were about to launch their first co-production, a stage version of the Jean Shepherd classic, A Christmas Story. It turned out to be a commercial and critical success, and so the same troika is now presenting a musical version of the work—even if none of them is contributing any creative input or personnel to the show. A Christmas Story: The Musical is actually a professional touring production, stopping here after dates in Pennsylvania and Detroit, and before appearances in Tampa and Chicago.
In development since a 2009 premiere in Seattle, this version of Shepherd's winter boyhood reminiscences has received a musical face-lift from songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Their new score features "Ralphie to the Rescue," a love song to a certain Red Ryder carbine-action air rifle, and "A Major Award," a show-stopping kick routine inspired by (and featuring) a certain table lamp made to look like a lady's leg in a fishnet stocking and stiletto heel.
The production, helmed by New York director John Rando, has received mixed reviews from the road. Audiences can decide for themselves. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, Dec. 4, with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. —Byron Woods