Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Christmas Story: The Musical

Lorri and I went to the 5th Avenue in Seattle Friday night.  We'd planned an away night for a while and god knows we needed it.  We Pricelined a hotel room and got a great deal at the Hyatt Olive 8, just a block from Pacific Place.  The hotel was wonderful.  It is Seattle's first LEED-certified hotel or energy and environmental efficiency.  The room was spacious and comfortable, though I think there are still bugs to be worked out of the heating system.  Great for high-tech travelers.

We did a little of the shopping thing, but found the Black Friday crowds to be pretty overwhelming.  So, we made our way over to Palomino's a couple blocks from the theater and had a great time over great food and drink.  Lorri had her favorite, crab cakes, and pronounced them more than acceptable.  I had a wonderful maple chicken salad with so many different flavors it's hard to describe.  Twarn't cheap, but every once and a while it's nice to get out and have a great dinner. 

We wandered a couple of blocks up the street and got in line for the opening night of "A Christmas Story." When Lorri suggested we see this show, I was a little hesitant.  I'm probably one of twelve people in American who has never seen the highly regarded 1983 movie.  I've seen lots of other Christmas movies, but somehow missed this one, except for some snippets. I don't really have a basis for comparing between the movie and the musical.

A Christmas Story is set in the 1960's during the dying days of big radio, and is set against a winter snowstorm.  a grown up Ralphie Parker flashes back to his youth and his 1940 Christmas memories. We are welcomed to a time that is much simpler and much more austere as his family, friends and neighbors emerge from the Depression.  We're introduced to the Parker family, with a hard working Dad, and a demanding, but loving, mom who keep the kids in line, most notably when Ralphie drops the f-bomb and implicates his friend as "the bad influence."
Clarke Hallum as Ralphie Parker with the air rifle of his dreams

There is a lot to like in this production.  My understanding is it is quite loyal to the movie.  There is the infamous tongue on flagpole scene, Ralphie's eternal desire to score an "Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas is a central theme, and the memorable winning of the ugliest lamp in history dominate the movie.  However the performances outweigh the narrative in "A Christmas Story: The Musical."  11-year old Clarke Hallum, of Olympia, is fabulous as Ralphie.  John Bolton plays a fun if occasionally over the top Old Man (father,) and Anne Allgood is wonderful as Mother. The appearance of the Radio Quartet, nicely sung by Jadd Davis, Candice Donehoo, Brandon O'Neill, and Billie Wildrick, kept us abreast of scene and theme changes.   
John Bolton, as the Old Man, a major winner, with possibly the ugliest lamp ever conceived.
If there is anything to critique, it is the whirlwind that seemed to sweep up the early scenes.  Though there is some narration, I found it inadequate to  keep myself from falling into gaps in my understanding.  Probably not a problem for movie veterans, but a bit troublesome for me.  It seemed to me that, for me, the emphasis on the musical numbers were ahead of the story telling.  Even so, I did figure it all out and enjoyed it thoroughly. 
Must be time for a scene change.  The Radio Quartet does its thing.
It was fun.  The energy is pervasive, the performances are enchanting, go see it.  Perfect with with a cup of hot, spiced cider.

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