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Monday, December 24, 2012

Report Card---"A Christmas Story, The Musical"

What better time than Christmas Eve to do a Report Card on "A Christmas Story, The
Well, pretty much any time, considering that I'm going to pretty much trash it.
I saw it a week ago Sunday, in New York, with very high expectations.
Unlike the DVDs that Hollywood sends me, which is their idea of things that are award-worthy, when I go to see a theatrical event, I go on my dime, and only go to things I think I will enjoy.
I went to five of them last week, and they will all be reported on.

The main problem I had with "A Christmas Story, The Musical" was that I loved the movie that it was based on so much, and it was literally impossible to improve upon it, or even come close to equal it.
The movie is one of the greats.
Jean Shepherd, the long-time New York radio monologist, whose writings this was based on, was one of the greats.
He personally narrates the film in voice-overs.
He had a very distinctive style.
It was very intimate, laced with a thick Chicago accent.
In the musical, he again serves as the narrator, only on stage, with no traceable accent, sounding nothing like Jean Shepherd.
Admittedly, this is going to bother someone like me, who grew up in New York listening to him for an hour every weekday night.
It will not bother anyone who did not grow up listening to him.
But how hard would it have been to get someone who sounded like him?
It is one of the great stories.
In the movie, it is told from a childs point of view.
The cameras point upward to capture the adults.
In the musical, I was sitting in the balcony, looking down at the action, feeling not
at all like a child.
If I had one word at my disposal to describe the proceedings in the musical, it would be "Overblown"
They took a wonderfully intimate story and movie, and turned it into mostly musical-
comedy shlock.

On to the scoring:

Is it interesting?

The curiosity factor of how they were going to pull this off was always there.

Compelling even?


Is it controversial?

In only one respect, and perhaps only to me. Our hero, little Ralphie, had one wish
for Christmas: to get a Daisy Air Rifle B-B gun.
The performance I saw took place only two days after the Newtown shootings, and the show contained major production numbers glorifying shooting B-B guns and killing people with them.
Seemed a little insensitive. At least at the time.
This bothered nobody else that I could see.

Is it a story worth telling?

It always was.

Is it good storytelling?

We've seen it told better.

Is it well written?

The songs are rather pedestrian. Not as bad as "The Producers", but in that league.
They only dragged things out.
When they stuck to the lines from the movie, they were on solid ground.
And some occasional original dialogue was good as well.

Is it well cast? Well played?, Well staged?

The highlight for me in the movie was Darren McGavin as the curmudgeonly father.
The guy they got for the musical was pure musical comedy whose feet never touched the ground. It was well played and well staged enough otherwise.

Is it too long? Too short?

It's a short story stretched almost beyond belief.

Is it believable? Do you care about the characters?

The story is so strong that it is virtually damage-proof.
So you believe, and you care.

Is it predictable? Does it surprise you?

They didn't change anything from the movie, so, predictable and unsurprising, as it should be.
No Grade.

Do you think about it after you've seen it?

I thought about how, with it all, they actually won me over.

Is it funny?

The story is inherently funny. some of the things they added in the production numbers were also funny.

Was it worth the eighty bucks it cost?

'Fraid not.

Is it impressive ?

In that it was a major try, yes.

Overall grade: C+.

It still made me cry at the end, just like the movie did.
But it could have done it without all the extravagance.
It's only fair to report that I seemed to be the only one who had any kind of negative reaction to it.
But then, I seemed to be the only one not accompanied by kids.


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.




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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."