‘A Christmas Story’

‘A Christmas Story’



“Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, around which the entire kid year revolved.”

— Ralphie Parker, “A Christmas Story”

And some adults’ year, too. Get ready for a big ol’ gulp of nostalgia for some — an introduction of a new family tradition for others — as the national Broadway tour of “A Christmas Story: The Musical” debuts at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville this week.

The 1983 classic film “A Christmas Story” is a holiday favorite across generations and gifted the world with such iconic moments as the bunny suit, the tongue-stuck-to-the-flagpole incident, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” and, of course, the famous leg lamp. They’re all there in the stage show, and Christopher Swan, who stars as The Old Man (Ralphie’s father), promises the musical version isn’t a pale imitation bound to dampen people’s fond memories.

“You don’t want to just re-create exactly something that they could sit home and watch on TV. And you obviously also do not want to turn your back on it and say, ‘We’re going to totally deconstruct this,’ because that’s not going to make anybody happy, either,” Swan says. “You have to look for the essence of what makes the movie or the story special, and that’s what you hold onto.

“We’re not trying to replace or trying to copy ‘Christmas Story.’ It’s a wonderful tale people love, and when you want more of that, where do you take it next? You take it to a musical, that’s what you do!” he declares. “As actors, we say when you can’t speak anymore, you sing. That’s what creates a musical when just words alone won’t do.”

And the songwriting team who gave the tale musical life knew just what they were doing. The songs compliment the story, Swan shares, moving the narrative forward rather than just repeating plot points.

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are the Tony-, Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning duo behind the lyrics, music and arrangements for “A Christmas Story.” The Christmas tale earned them a Tony nomination early in their career for Best Original Score — the award they would later go on to win for a little show called “Dear Evan Hanson.”

Swan originated the role of The Old Man on the first national tour in 2014 after the show’s limited Broadway runs the two years prior. The tour, too, embarks on a limited run each year only during the Christmas season. Swan went on the road as the head of the Parker family the first three years of the tour before pursing other projects. When he was asked back for the sixth year of the production, the actor says he was surprised and pleased to find how much of the show remained in muscle memory.

“The moments that kind of resonate more with me now over these years are the moments with the family,” Swan muses. “There’s the comic moments, which are great and the audience responds to them — I love doing the physical comedy and the fake swears and all that.

“But it’s the moments with the family, and where the Old Man maybe feels like he’s the same age as Ralphie,” because he remembers what it was like to get the one thing you most wanted, Swan goes on. “Hopefully I’m bringing that across in the performance because those are the moments that are very special to me.”



‘A Christmas Story: The Musical’

WHEN — 8 p.m. Dec. 13; 2 & 8 p.m. Dec. 14; 2 p.m. Dec. 15

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $40-$91

INFO — 443-5600, waltonartscenter.org



Get Engaged

The Broadway Cocktail Class add-on returns for “A Christmas Story” at 6:30 p.m. before the Dec. 14 performance. A mixologist from Fayetteville’s Cannibal & Craft will teach participants to make two themed cocktails, Sweet As Pie and Spice Java Sour. Must be 21 or older to attend. $35.

Categories: Music