Bobbie Sue Kvachkoff, co-director of Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera House’s “A Christmas Story, The Musical” admitted to having initial reservations about bringing a musical version of the beloved holiday favorite to the stage.
“I thought ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you turning this into a musical?’” she said. “But then I started working on it and saw that the music really enhances everything. It brings everything further forward. It doesn’t alter anything.”
Opening Friday and running through Dec. 10, “Story” tells the tales first found in Hammond-reared Jean Shepherd’s 1966 tome “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.” It was adapted for the big screen in 1983 and to song and stage less than a decade ago.
“Story” chronicles the highs and lows of a working class family in a fictional Northwest Indiana town as they endure a Christmas season in the 1940s, with youngster Ralphie vying for a beloved Red Ryder Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle and the neighborhood bully, his father struggling with his car and a beloved lamp, and his mother trying to keep her family together.
Featuring songs such as “It All Comes Down to Christmas,” “Ralphie to the Rescue” and “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out,” the musical version of “Story” was first staged in Kansas City in 2009 before heading to Broadway three years later, where it received a trio of Tony Award nominations.
On Dec. 17, a live version of “Story” will air on Fox, with Matthew Broderick narrating.
“It really jumps all over the place,” Kvachkoff said of the music. “You have a big, classic Broadway show stopper. There’s a couple with a Western twang, and there’s a really beautiful female ballad. There’s a little taste of a few different areas of music.”
J.J. Boylan is the narrator, Jayne Bartlett is Ralphie, Douglas DeLaughter is Ralphie’s father and Leann Wright is his mother in Memorial Opera House’s “Story.” Also included in the near-four dozen member cast are Joseph Koloski as Ralph’s brother Randy, Selena Ruiz as schoolyard bully Scut Farkus and Gannon Michna as Farkus’ right hand, Flick.
“My cast is incredible” said Kvachkoff who is directing “Story” with Jennifer Lundin. “From the narrator down to the youngest member of the children’s ensemble, they are engaged and eager and they have made the entire process a joy.”
At press time, tickets for the Nov. 26, Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 performances have sold out.
Next up for Memorial Opera House is a production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” scheduled to open Feb. 16.