Top image courtesy of the New York Times
It’s one of those films your entire family knows by heart — a quintessential Christmas movie that’s become so infused with the holiday it warrants its own 24-hour marathon on TV each year. A Christmas Story is comfortable and cozy, like a warm cup of hot chocolate on a super-cold day. Because many of us began watching it at such a young age, revisiting the film each year during the holiday season almost feels like you’re catching up with family you haven’t seen all year. The increasing popularity of the film in recent years has also lead to various forms of money-making fandom — from the original Christmas Story house being turned into a museum, to various props from the movie being recreated and sold to the general public (how many of you already have your own leg lamp?).
More recently there’s a musical, and a very lucrative one at that. Currently on a five-city tour, the New York Times caught up with it in Chicago, where it will spend its final three weeks of the season. The original Ralphie, Peter Billingsley, is one of its producers, and the show features songs that coincide with some of the film’s more memorable moments, like “A Major Award” and “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.” Some storylines have changed; there’s no more Little Orphan Annie decoder ring (probably because who the hell knows what Ovaltine is anymore), and the film’s voice-over narration has turned into a live character on stage who often steps in to interrupt the story. One of the film’s more memorable moments (also adapted for the stage) involves the final scene in the Chinese restaurant, where it plays off the waiter’s thick Chinese accents for jokes. Apparently the scene was controversial enough that one of the composers was let go after he opposed the stereotypes.
Minus that hiccup, though, the musical looks to be thriving — so much so that its creators claim they have “a lot of interest” from Broadway, and are in “active discussions” to bring the musical to New York next year, either on Broadway or in a theater like the Beacon or Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Check out the kids from the musical performing one of its songs below called “When You’re a Wimp.”