NEW ORLEANS – The cast and creators of “A Christmas Story, The Musical” triple-dog-dare you to not have a good time next week when the show rolls into recently re-opened Saenger Theatre. The musical, based on the 1983 classic that graces most American family televisions for 24-hours on Christmas Day, follows the life of beloved character Ralphie Parker as he does anything and everything to get a Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.
I will admit my skepticism when first hearing that “A Christmas Story, The Musical” was headed to New Orleans this season – after all, there have been a good amount of Broadway misses when it comes to musical adaptations of films – but knowing the show was brought to life by the team behind “Dear Evan Hansen” and the film “La La Land,” I’m starting to think this may just be the Christmas cheer we all need this season.
Ahead of the show, I chatted with actor Briana Gantsweg, who plays Ralphie’s mother in the touring company, about the production, the pressure of bringing a film to the stage and all that’s in between.
Kelly Massicot: How would you describe “A Christmas Story” the musical?
Brianna Gantsweg: A Christmas Story, The Musical is a beautiful reinvention of the famous film it’s based upon. It is full of laughter, joy, and touching moments. It honors all the iconic moments from the film, and the addition of [Benj] Pasek and [Justin] Paul’s bright sweeping score brings the story to even new heights!
KM: What’s your favorite part about being in this production?
BG: I love working with our incredible company of child actors. They are top-notch in every way and remind me to see the world (and our job!) through curious eyes. They light up the stage every night, and I know they are inspiring lots of young future-actors in the audience.
KM: What’s your favorite song, or moment, during the show?
BG: One of my favorite moments is when the infamous “Fragile” box arrives, because the sequence that ensues in our musical version is quite exceptional… Let’s just say you’ve never seen a kickline like the one we’ve got!
KM: The movie is iconic – there’s literally a 24-hour marathon on Christmas Day – did that
bring any pressure to playing the characters on stage?
BG: It’s an honor to play characters that audiences hold so dear to their holiday traditions. I love hearing audience reactions to our version, and hearing about their relationship to the film growing up. Many of them come to our show with their children, and are building new “A Christmas Story” traditions with them!
KM: What sets the stage show apart from the movie or story that everyone already knows?
BG: The addition of Pasek and Paul’s gorgeous score lifts the story to a whole new level. The excitement of Ralphie’s dad at the arrival of the leg lamp, Ralphie’s fantasies about how the Red Ryder BB Gun will change his life, the mall Santa scene at Higbee’s… All these moments are amplified by the songs that bring them to life, and the result is thrilling.
KM: What do you hope people take away from the show?
BG: I hope people are brought into the holiday spirit of family and togetherness. I hope they are happily reminded of the memories they associate with the iconic film, and building new memories with whomever they’ve brought with them to the theater!
KM: Have you been to New Orleans before, and what are you excited to experience in the
BG: I’ve never before been to New Orleans and I am so looking forward to it! I’ve heard such enthusiastic raves about the music and food and nightlife here. I can’t wait to explore!
Tickets for “A Christmas Story, The Musical” are on sale at BroadwayInNewOrleans.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling (800) 982-2787 or at the Saenger Box Office.
The performance schedule is as follows:
Tuesday-Thursday: 7:30 p.m.
Friday: 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m., 3 p.m., and 8 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.