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A Christmas Story - The Musical
Format: Audio CDChange
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
Can't talk about the show; haven't seen it, but I sure want to, now that I've heard this heartwarming, clever, melodic, intelligent score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Before this show, I'd never heard of these two writers, but on the strength of this score, I think we'll be hearing a lot of them in the decades to come. I hope so, because their infectious score (as catchy as pinkeye)is one of the best I've heard this century.

Imagine: catchy melodies with intelligent, occasionally wise, and often funny lyrics sitting comfortably on the notes, not squished in regardless of where the music is going, and with actual rhymes, not the kind of near-rhymes that seem to be good enough for some writers these days. Not these guys. Lyric structure means something to them, with lines held together with alliteration ("When you're a wimp you get wise to the ways of the wood"), clever and appropriate lyric changes from verse to verse ("The hawks swoop and scoop you up as their prey" becomes "We swoop and scoop them up as they pray"), and some lines that just bring joy to the ear--what kid hasn't at some point wished it was "almost nearly getting close to counting down to Christmas"?

If there are musical antecedents to the score, they're in echoes of "Falsettos," and "Grey Gardens," and "Avenue Q," and I never realized how much Liz Callaway (Mother on the recording, but not in the show this year) sounds like Stephanie D'Abruzzo. And of course, there are musical echoes of Sondheim. None of this is bad, and none of it detracts one iota from this score, which, supported by Larry Blank's terrific orchestrations, keeps the time period in mind, and if it veers from a 1939 or 1940 vibe, it's only to nod to 1960's Broadway.

Oh--and the kid, Clarke Hallum, is just amazing. Whoever else plays Ralphie will have a really hard act to follow.

I triple dog dare you to not love this score.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I want to state up front that this review is based on the fact that I'll assume the reader has not seen a production of this musical which was first staged in Seattle, WA in 2010 and is currently playing on Broadway. For those folks this might make a nice "souvenir" of what they saw. The play is based on, what has now become a "cult" classic - the 1983 Bob Clark ("Porky's") film based on radio satirist Jean Shepherd's books and stories. If you've seen the film, it will have a different impact than for those who are totally unfamiliar with the plot. I have not seen the musical and it's been 20 years or more since I last saw the film, so please take that into consideration as you read this review.

This CD is not packaged or listed as either an "Original Cast" album or a "Broadway" album but, rather as a "World Premiere Recording". So don't expect the New York Cast here. The album was recorded during three sessions over an eight-month period between December 2010 and August 2011 and the "names" here are Broadway vets Liz Callaway and Tom Wopat. Wopat provides the "voice" of Shepherd but has no singing role.

The 58-minute CD comes with a 24-page booklet containing the lyrics to the 16 songs (there's also an "Overture" and a reprise) and you will find it handy to follow some of the lyrics. Many of the songs feature a chorus of kids - than "Annie" or "Oliver" - and the lyrics are not always clear. The "star" of the show, Clarke Hallum as Ralphie, has a voice like a male "Annie", and I'm sure he's great on stage, but sounds like many talented child singers.

One thing that is , surprisingly, missing from the booklet is a Synopsis of the plot. You certainly can't tell it from just listening to the songs. This would have helped immensely. As for the songs as performed on the CD, there is a lot of "dialogue" included. Not enough to flesh out the story, and too much to want to hear it again when you really want to hear the songs. The number "A Major Award" extends to 7 ½ minutes because so much dialogue is included. The stand out performance - at least for me - and the one song that might have a life of its own beyond this show is "Just Like That". It is one of the two solo performances by Callaway and would fit in well with her cabaret act (with the spoken text removed.) While the cast is listed in the booklet, not all have identifiable parts on the album. Conversely, the song "Up On Santa's Lap" has the lead vocal by - as the lyrics reveal - "Santa", yet there is no role (and actor) listed for anyone named Santa on the Cast page. I guess if you saw the show, you might have the program - but since this is essentially a "studio cast" album, that wouldn't help.

All the above is not to say that the composers - both new to me - can't write clever songs but I felt lost as I tried to listen and follow along with the lyrics. So, for me at least, this album was "just okay".

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
I was really looking forward to this one and was not disappointed. For anyone who has seen the movie you know exactly what is happenning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2013
I bought this for my husband for Christmas even though he had little hope for it. Turns out he LOVES it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
This is evocative of nearly every scene in the movie and fans will love it. I love the kids choruses which are too funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2013
FUN! FUN! FUN! What a wonderful adaptation of a classic motion picture..a great poiece of theater wiuth wonderful songs, and I am happy to have it added to my original cast collection.
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on March 12, 2014
I did not find any of the songs very catchy, nor memorable (i.e., singing it in my head to myself)
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on February 17, 2014
I'm a fan of the movie, A Christmas Story. I purchased this to add to my collection. It's not as good I expected...
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on February 5, 2014
Not sure what I was expecting it to be. I think it has some great songs that are catchy. Erin Dilley is great. But to just listen too was not my favorite. Nothing grabbed me and made me want to hear it again. It was good to listen to once and I will probably drag it out every couple of years thinking it will be better than I remember but not one I think I will play all the time...
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on January 19, 2014
loved it, my husband's favorite movie, made to music, leg lamp on cover couldn't be better! Try this for yourselves!
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