Pros: A talented cast
Cons: A poor, almost non-existent storyline
When it opened on Broadway in 2012, this musical was nominated for Tony awards for Best Musical and Best Original Score. The songs are pleasant enough, if a bit ‘same-y’. There is a lively tap number in the second half, and the song What a Mother Does lingered in my head for quite a while, although I think that may have been down to the rather old-fashioned sentiments contained within it.
Of the thirteen cast members of A Christmas Story, over half are children or young performers, and all put on a great performance. Felix Hepburn makes excellent work of leading character, Ralph, ably supported by Ethan Manwaring as his little brother, Randy. Lucyelle Cliffe is the epitome of a wholesome 1940s American housewife and mother, and I have a feeling we will be seeing more of Amelia Ioannou (appearing here as Mary-Beth) in the future.
There is, however, only so far a talented cast and cute children can go without some kind of interesting story. A Christmas Story is based on an apparently popular film of the same name. Having not seen the film (nor does it seem likely now), it may be that I missed something, but the narrative feels rather dull. Set in a fictional town in Indiana in the run-up to Christmas, nine year old Ralph has decided he wants a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle, which comes with a host of gizmos, including, annoyingly, ‘a thing that tells the time’ (a clock, perhaps?). He is told by several adults that this is not a good idea, as he will shoot his eye out. Come Christmas morning he does indeed get the gun as one of his presents, and proceeds to shoot his eye out. No, not really, although that would have been an interesting development, but he does hurt his head on the ricochet of the gun and breaks his glasses.
In between there are various household and schoolroom scenes about nothing very much. The boiler breaks down; little brother will not eat his vegetables; there are bullies in the playground. Simon Willmont’s ranting, raving and not quite swearing as the Old Man is amusing, but there isn’t much in the way of laughs. The accompanying musicians tucked away at the side are excellent, costumes are appropriate to the era, and the set is well created considering the small venue. But it does emphasis the dull storyline.
Despite the good bits, taken as a whole it’s just rather bland and boring.
Director: Gerald Armin
Musical Director: Inga Davis-Rutter
Choreographer: Rhainne Butts
Book: Joseph Robinette
Music and lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Box Office: 02079280060
Booking Link: waterlooeast.ticketsolve.com
Booking Until: 22 December 2018