NY Theatre Guide: Theatre Review ‘A Christmas Story The Musical’ at John W. Engeman Theater

Posted By: Kristen Weyer on: November 24, 2014

Ethan Eisenberg, Steve Luker, Gina Milo and Griffin Reese. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro.

“You’ll shoot your eye out!” This classic line has entertained audiences for decades. Ever since the motion picture A Christmas Story was released in 1983, it has been a Christmas favorite for many. A Christmas Story: The Musical is just as much fun, if not more. With a book by Joseph Robinette, who faithfully follows the original, and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, you’ll find yourself enjoying both favorite moments and new delights.

…superb from beginning to end.

Its 1940, and all Ralphie Parker (Ethan Eisenberg) wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun. That’s not so much to ask is it? The problem lies in convincing his parents (Gina Milo, Steve Luker), or anyone else who might be able to help, how much he really needs one. He has one month in which to accomplish this, all the while juggling friends, bullies, school and the infamous leg lamp. Can he do it? Well, he’s certainly going to try his best.

The John W. Engeman Theater’s production of this show is superb from beginning to end. Directed by Richard T. Dolce, A Christmas Story: The Musical will make you smile, laugh and root for Ralphie the whole way through. Ethan Eisenberg is incredible. Not only is he a wonderful young actor with timing and expression, but his singing will blow you away. Jean Shepherd, our story’s narrator, is perfectly portrayed by David Schmittou. His non-chalant, storytelling adds charm and humor at just the right moments. Ralphie’s short-tempered father is played by the immensely talented Steve Luker, while Mother is played by the lovely Gina Milo. Both give believable performances with pleasing voices and convincing characterization. Griffin Reese is adorable as Ralphie’s younger brother Randy, while Michael Spencer and Theron Viljoen as Ralphie’s best friends are the perfect little imps.

The entire cast and ensemble of this production are fantastic, but perhaps the kids are the most surprising. Their level of talent and professionalism is astounding. There are two alternating casts of children for this production, the red cast and the green cast. The red cast is comprised of Christopher Darrin, Erin Haggerty, Shelby Herling, Jake Kalionwski, Shane Anthony McGlone, Mckenzie Ann Mullahey, Michael Spencer, Theron Viljoen and Chloe Wheeler. The green cast consists of Laurel Caruso, Katie Dolce, Evan Flannery, Vincent Gerardi, Meaghan Maher, Ryan Mcinnes, Michael Meneshian, James Maxwell Tully and Alexandra Vallejos.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the most impressive set I have yet to see at this theater. Brilliantly designed by Jonathan Collins, it consists of multiple rolling pieces, sliding architecture and clever arrangement. With great props, and time period appropriate costuming by Tristan Raines the visual effect was complete. Amusing sound effects designed by Craig Kaufman, and choreography by Antoniette DiPietropolo completed the feel of the show.

A Christmas Story: The Musical is a delightful evening for the whole family. Whether you are young or old, there is something in this show for you to enjoy. A magical look at the ordinary lives of a family at Christmas.

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.

A Christmas Story: The Musical is playing at John W. Engeman Theater at Northport through January 4th, 2015. The theater is located at 250 Main Street, Northport NY. For tickets call the box office at (631) 261-2900 or click here.

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