Nashville Rep's "Christmas Story" an interactive delight

No holiday season is complete without the sympathetic comfort we all feel from watching others suffer through the stress of holiday preparation. Not many productions do it better than the Nashville Repertory Theatre’s decades-standing tale of A Christmas Story.

Similar to the all-American classic movie, in the production, Derek Whittaker (portraying nine-year-old Ralphie Parker) narrates the entire play, taking the audience through the ups and downs of his 1940’s family during the Christmas season. Ralphie’s young soul desires nothing more than the “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass and this thing which tells time, built right into the stock.”  But alas, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” rings the constant adult rebuttal, providing Ralphie’s motivation throughout the show.

Only seven talented cast members deliver an exceptional performance, quickly switching costumes and characters to portray the many children and community members in the play. In one scene, the male cast members cascade out clad from the waist down in the same sexy fishnets and stilettos as the movie’s iconic leg lamp. Watching these men clumsily dance a pseudo ballet number in honor of the lamp’s presence proves quite the comical delight. But, Megan Murphy Chambers (in the role of the children’s mother) and Bobby Wyckoff (as “The Old Man”—the children’s father) give the fellas a run for their money in their own comical dance around the lamp. “The Old Man” is just as proud of his “major award” as his wife is disgusted and embarrassed by it.

Providing side-hurting laughter and a fun adaption from the movie, playwright Phillip Grecian includes a few commercial-come-to-life scenes with ensemble actors portraying Red Ryder style cowboys. Upon Ralphie’s fantasizing of the much desired BB gun, enter four bow-legged, mustache and chap-wearing range riders, quick to gas up young Ralphie about the glorious and defending ways of the Red Ryder gun. In this week’s performance, these cowboys were so thrilling with their chair-jumping whooping and hollering that the entire theater came alive with so many yips and yells that it felt like we are all sitting camp side with Ralphie admiring his shiny new gun.  

The Nashville Rep’s production of A Christmas Story is warm, light-hearted, and especially fun for the younger crowd including full audience participation to help with the howling, yipping sounds of the Bumpuses’ (the Parker’s neighbors’) loathsome hounds as well as the whistling, rowdy gawks of the men admiring “the soft glow of electric sex”--the garish leg lamp. Some audience members are given noise makers and even get to meet the behind-the-curtain, booming-voice Santa before getting to shoot down the adult sized exit slide.

If you’ve got some time and want to take the family and out-of-town guests for a special Nashville night out, go check out “A Christmas Story” and see for yourself how they handle that special moment where poor Flick gets the “TRIPLE dog dare” to stick his tongue to that icy flagpole.  

Adapted by Phillip Grecian, from the motion picture by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, and Bob Clark, A Christmas Story has performances at TPAC’s Andrew Johnson Theatre through December 20, 2015.  Tickets can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office or online at www.TPAC.org. 

 

 

 

 

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