Get a leg up on hol­i­day sea­son with ‘ A Christ­mas Story: The Mu­si­cal’

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - News - BY CAITLIN HEANEY WEST STAFF WRITER cwest@ timessham­rock. com; 570- 3489100, ext. 5107

Pull on your pink bunny suit, turn off your leg lamp and be sure to drink your Oval­tine as you head out for a night with the Parker fam­ily in “AChrist­mas Story: The Mu­si­cal.”

The Broad­way adap­ta­tion of the clas­sic 1983 movie comes to Scran­ton Cul­tural Cen­ter at TheMa­sonic Tem­ple, 420N. Wash­ing­tonAve., for five per­for­mances from Nov. 17 through 19. Pre­sented by Broad­way The­atre League of North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, the show­fol­lows 11- year- old Ral­phie Parker as he longs for a Red Ry­der BB gun for Christ­mas and deals with his quirky fam­ily and the dilemmas of child­hood in the 1940s.

“They­will see all of their fa­vorite mo­ments ( from the film): the flag pole, the pink bunny pa­ja­mas, the Bum­pus hounds andmy per­sonal fa­vorite mo­ment of me putting the bar of soap in ( Ral­phie’s) mouth,” said Sara Zoe Bud­nik, who plays Ral­phie’s mother. “All the best mo­ments are in­cluded and done sow­ell in the mu­si­cal.”

The orig­i­nal film star­ring Peter Billings­ley and Dar­ren McGavin be­came a hol­i­day view­ing sta­ple over the years, es­pe­cially as chan­nels TNT and TBS ran it for 24 hours straight on Christ­mas in re­cent years. De­spite its preva­lence, “AChrist­mas Story” never made it to Bud­nik’s TV screen be­fore the Cal­i­for­nia na­tive au­di­tioned for the mu­si­cal. She thought do­ing her own ver­sion of the char­ac­ter with­out­watch­ing the orig­i­nalmight be more in­ter­est­ing for her try­out, she said, and­while she’s watched the film since then, Bud­nik still set out to make the char­ac­ter hers.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause the orig­i­nal ac­tress­who played the mother, Melinda Dil­lon, she’s so in­cred­i­bly in­ter­est­ing and very spe­cific and unique,” Bud­nik said re­cently by phone. “And when you trans­late any­thing from amovie to amu­si­cal, a lot changes. So it has kind of be­come a process of mak­ing ( the role) my own, and of course you don’t want to mimic any­thing, but the movie is so high­lighted. It’s high­lighted very­well in the mu­si­cal ver­sion, and I think it brings aw­hole newzhoosh to the show, mak­ing it a mu­si­cal.”

One of the most iconic scenes in the film, when the Old Man re­ceives a lamp shaped like a sexy leg, comes to life in a big dance num­ber in­which the cast hoofs it with sev­eral lamps.

“It’s like a big, Broad­way clas­sic show­stop­ping num­ber,” Bud­nik said. “And it’s led by theOld Man. It’s so funny, and you just have to see it.”

While Bud­nik’s song, “What a MotherDoes,” about her char­ac­ter go­ing about her daily tasks, has be­come one of her fa­vorite songs she’s ever per­formed, Ral­phie sings her top tune in the show, “Red Ry­der Car­bine Ac­tion BBGun.”

“The song is just re­ally in­cred­i­ble,” Bud­nik said. “The or­ches­tra­tions just are so ear- catch­ing. It’s im­pos­si­ble not to smile­while you’re watch­ing this kid live out his Christ­mas fan­tasy, and it just brings nos­tal­gia back to your youth and all the things that you wanted for Christ­mas.”

Bud­nik has to try not to laugh in the scene in­which her char­ac­ter washes out Ral­phie’smouth with soap, and she has to make sure she gets the bar in just right. She work­swith about a dozen kids in the pro­duc­tion and was sur­prised by their tal­ent and howwell they cap­tured their char­ac­ters.

“I’ve nev­er­worked with kids be­fore, and it’s in­cred­i­ble, their voices and their dance abil­i­ties and the act­ing choices that they make,” Bud­nik said. “They’re fear­less, and they’re just so ex­cited to start the tour.”

The showre­minds au­di­ences of the Christ­mases of their youth, Bud­nik said, de­scrib­ing it as “in­cred­i­bly re­lat­able.”

“I think I’m just so ex­cited for everybody to see how much heart is por­trayed by each char­ac­ter,” she said. “Each char­ac­ter just shows so much love to­ward one an­other, and it’s so hon­est, and it’s just a showthat’s for ev­ery fam­ily mem­ber.”


“A Christ­mas Story: The Mu­si­cal: fea­tures many of the iconic scenes from the clas­sic 1983 movie, in­clud­ing the scene where a dare from his class­mates leads Flick to get his tongue stuck to a frozen pole.

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