La Comedia presents family-friendly musical ‘A Christmas Story’

(clockwise) John Dorney (The Old Man), Sam Kingrey (Ralphie), Jax Heritage (Randy) and Karie-Lee Sutherland (Mother) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "A Christmas Story."
Caption
(clockwise) John Dorney (The Old Man), Sam Kingrey (Ralphie), Jax Heritage (Randy) and Karie-Lee Sutherland (Mother) in La Comedia Dinner Theatre's production of "A Christmas Story."

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

Credit: JUSTIN WALTON

‘This show is filled with the wonderment of Christmases past,’ director/choreographer Chris Beiser said.

It’s time once again to reminisce about Red Ryder, freezing flagpoles, intimidating bullies, a silly bunny suit and a peculiar major award.

La Comedia Dinner Theatre in Springboro presents composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and librettist Joseph Robinette’s 2012 holiday musical “A Christmas Story” through Friday. Dec. 31.

Based on the iconic 1983 film of the same name as well as Jean Shepherd’s novel “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash,” the musical, set in the 1940s, centers on the lovable Parker household of Hohman, Indiana. Bespectacled, inquisitive Ralphie has only one wish for Christmas: he wants a Red Ryder BB gun. In spite of warnings that he’ll shoot his eye out, Ralphie remains determined to convince his parents (and a disgruntled Santa) the gun is the ultimate gift.

“This show is filled with the wonderment of Christmases past,” said director/choreographer Chris Beiser. “Everyone has a (story) about a gift they always wanted and what they would do in order to get it, perhaps doing everything right two weeks before Christmas. Overall, this show is about special memories of Christmas.”

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Pasek and Paul, best known for winning an Oscar for “La La Land” in addition to the Tony and Grammy for “Dear Evan Hansen,” created a charming score for “A Christmas Story” full of bright, funny and touching tunes. Selections include “It All Comes Down to Christmas,” “Ralphie to the Rescue,” “Sticky Situation,” “Up on Santa’s Lap,” “Somewhere Hovering Over Indiana” and the title song.

“This score, seamlessly flowing in and out of the dialogue, has a lot of nostalgia in it,” Beiser said. “Pasek and Paul also did a wonderful job with Ralphie imagining what he would do if he had the BB gun. The dream sequences from the film are now big production numbers in the musical. Ralphie’s mother also has two beautiful, wonderful moments in song in which she sings about the joys of being a mother even in the hardship of Christmastime and trying to get everything done.”

Led by Sam Kingrey of Centerville and Ryder Parsons of Hamilton who alternate in the role of Ralphie, the principal cast includes John Dorney as The Old Man, Karie-Lee Sutherland as Mother, Maxtyn Barton and Jax Heritage as Randy, Jessica Kaiser as Miss Shields, Mark Reuter as Jean Shepherd, and Digger Howard as Santa and “O Holy Night” soloist.

Featured players include Avi Gilbert and Chace Gleeson as Farcus, Lucas Head and Xander Heritage as Dill, Blake Meyerhofer and Zach Sweeney as Flick, Davey Jackson and Cameron Krause as Schwartz, Addi Haines and Phoebe Kettler as Esther Jane, and Sadie Hornick and Emma Jackson as Mary Beth.

Ensemble members include Allison Gabert, Philip Krinsky, Naomi Quigley, Desmond Thomas and Aaron Washington.

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“A lot of people love the movie which is why a lot of people come to this show,” said Kingrey, previously seen at La Comedia as Kurt in “The Sound of Music,” Flounder in “The Little Mermaid” and Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol.” “I really like the movie, which is why I auditioned. I also think people can relate to Ralphie because they (understand) he’s always thinking he’ll get the gun, which is his pride and joy.”

Kingrey also enjoys the opportunity to showcase his own personality in the role.

“I’m a fun guy and I like to make jokes,” he said. “I like bringing my own twist to the role, implementing my (kind of comedy) in certain scenes, especially when Flick gets his tongue stuck to the flagpole.”

Looking back at a year in which La Comedia was among the first arts organizations to return to live performance after the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, Beiser is grateful for the continued support from the community. He hopes “A Christmas Story” provides a familiar, entertaining, family-friendly experience audiences will want to be a part of as the holiday season progresses.

“Families come back year after year to La Comedia at Christmastime,” he said. “Last year’s Christmas was odd and unusual for many of us, so the idea of being together as families again, which this show talks a lot about, is very important.”

HOW TO GO

What: “A Christmas Story: The Musical”

Where: La Comedia Dinner Theatre, 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro

When: Through Dec. 31; Thursday and Friday matinee and evening; Saturday evening; Sunday brunch and evening

Cost: $65-$76; $35 for kids 11 and under

Tickets: Call 1-800-677-9505 or 937-746-4554

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