I have a confession. I’ve never liked the movie, A Christmas Story. I find it cynical and dark, at a time of the year when I want light-hearted and joyful. While I recognize why others love it, the clicker clicks on by when it pops up on tv a hundred times. But the musical is a different story entirely..
Although it’s the same plot-line, this stage version finds focus in the warmth of family despite parental flaws and foibles. The backdrop is humor, always, mostly about the “Old Man’s” shortcomings, but he turns out to be the hero, which alleviates whatever tension we have been feeling about a weak father. He’s not, after all. In fact, he’s surprisingly intuitive about his kids, and Ralphie’s feelings especially, despite the previously consistent tone of stress and personal goofiness.
And how about the Mom? Isn’t she wise, all-knowing about her family, and constantly in-charge? Exactly how I am at any moment of any day in my family! Ask anyone who knows me! HA!
But the most wonderful aspect of this version is that the script gave us opportunity to include Ralphie’s community as an ever-present and powerful force for his growth and encouragement. Even if everyone is telling him, “you’ll shoot your eye out!”. We all get a sense that they are constantly present in the family’s life, supporting each other in a no-nonsense way, all the while, helping in whatever way they can. Community is so important.
I love stories in which we are reminded that, despite our secret doubts, eventually we realize that someone was listening to us. Whether it was Mom, Dad, our neighbor, our worst enemy, or God (always God), – we were heard.
This cast has been helpful to each other, graceful with me, hard-working, and completely loveable. And I adore them. It takes a lot of work to look this fun. And my prayer is that the job well-done and the community they’ve found in the process has made it all worth it.
Please consider giving to the FOA this season. The programming needs your support to be maintained and even grow. We want to provide arts experiences like this one to more people in our community.
With a Heart for the Arts,
Mary Ann Washington