Offering legendary actor Tom Key with a vacation showcase to indicate how he uniquely warms an viewers, Theatrical Outfit’s A Christmas Story, onstage by December 24, is an enthralling, cozy confection.
The Philip Grecian-scripted play adaptation of the 1983 movie mixes the acquainted joys of the film with comforts that Atlanta audiences particularly have come to know.
Casting Key within the central position because the Narrator — whereby he leads the viewers in tune, delivers the lion’s share of strains, evokes unique storyteller Jean Shepherd and steps out and in of the story as a facet character when wanted — is a masterstroke. Atlanta audiences have been watching him for round 40 years, and he spent a while as Ebenezer Scrooge within the Alliance Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, a model of which was later helmed by this present’s director, Rosemary Newcott. He co-wrote Cotton Patch Gospel. He led Theatrical Outfit as inventive director from 1995 to 2020. He’s a tremendous performer all the time, final showing onstage within the Theatrical Outfit and Dad’s Storage co-production of The White Chip, taking part in a variety of characters.
A Christmas Story capitalizes on the truth that Atlanta is aware of and loves Key, because it ought to. His presence is the very first thing we see, wishing us a Merry Christmas and making us really feel at dwelling.
Then, as you notice a lot of the play’s success rests within the Narrator’s huge quantity of exposition dialogue and asides, you realize we’re in protected fingers.
The script is designed in such a approach that the Narrator and younger Ralphie Parker mirror the lead position. At any time when any character warns Ralphie that his desired Pink Ryder air rifle BB gun would possibly “shoot his eye out,” each Key and performer Max Partitions wince.
Partitions — beforehand onstage this yr in Out Entrance Theatre’s Ruthless! — is terrific and humorous as younger Ralphie, giving a sport, bodily efficiency that requires a number of costume adjustments, slow-motion motion scenes and lots of wit. In an elementary faculty romance subplot added for the play, Partitions and actress Jemileen Vasquez have a delightfully awkward chemistry.
Ralphie’s dad and mom, performed by Tiny Lovely Issues co-stars Maria Rodriguez-Sager and Robin Bloodworth, have the identical form of playful, crackling spark that Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin shared within the movie. Rodriguez-Sager offers her character a know-it-all vibe, heat and a savvy humorousness. Bloodworth has lots of enjoyable because the Outdated Man, regularly frazzled and griping nonsense curses over damaged furnaces, blown fuses and flat tires.
As with the film, the dad and mom’ passive-aggressive conflict over the Outdated Man’s cheesy “main award” is fairly epic, culminating in a superb little bit of bodily comedy from Rodriguez-Sager. Bloodworth’s wanton need for vacation turkey can be a hilarious operating gag.
As trainer Miss Shields, Brittani Minnieweather is sort and humorous. Vasquez and Michelle Pokopac do good work as a few of Ralphie’s classmates. August Smith, who alternates the position of child brother Randy with Lucas Hulsey, was additionally very humorous.
Taking part in Flick, Schwartz and bully Scut Farkas, actors Gabriel Chavez-Vitiello, Lance Avery Brown and Pilot Bunch ship high-energy, enjoyable performances.
Deserving of a particular shout-out is assistant stage supervisor Kayla Brooke, who regularly redresses the set and exchanges props all through the present, deliberately in full view of the viewers. She interacts with and is overtly acknowledged by the Narrator, and he or she acquired her personal curtain name on opening evening.
A Christmas Story is stuffed with enjoyable touches like that. With the fourth wall basically damaged from the outset, there are layers of guffaws to search out, and Newcott’s course highlights them.
The set design from Daimien J. Matherson and Monty Wilson is gorgeous. The props from Caroline Prepare dinner had been spot-on, and even the turkey appeared scrumptious. The lighting design from Nadirah T. Harper made all the pieces really feel homey and acquainted, although there have been noticeable glitches in the course of the efficiency attended for assessment.
All in all, A Christmas Story gives a enjoyable, acquainted Atlanta vacation feeling.
Benjamin Carr, a member of the American Theatre Critics Affiliation, is an arts journalist and critic who has contributed to ArtsATL since 2019. His performs have been produced on the Winery Theatre in Manhattan as a part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Brief Play Competition and on the Middle for Puppetry Arts. His novel, Impacted, was revealed by The Story Plant in 2021.