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Charming “A Christmas Story the Musical” at Encore (Review) November 27, 2022

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.

The Encore Musical Theatre Company wishes you a Merry Christmas by way of their wonderful production of “A Christmas Story the musical”, based on the movie, with book by Joseph Robinette and Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Everything in this production just clicks and even brings a tear to your eye on occasion in this charming musical telling of the annual favorite. From sets to costumes to lighting and acting the production is fantastic. The orchestra is particularly wonderful, under the direction of R. Mackenzie Lewis. Artistic Director Dan Cooney does a very fine job of making this show sing, move along quickly, and charm. Choreographer Jillian Hopper creates fun numbers for both the adults and the kids. The many many many many costumes by Marilee Dechart (adults) and Sandee Koski (kids) are terrific. Anne Donevan creates fun and period appropriate props. It plays out on Shane Cinal’s double-decker set.

But the real charmers here are the cast members. Gavin Cooney is really great as Ralphie upon whom the entire production turns. Jessica Grové as mother and David Moan as the old man are superb, and even more superb in their scenes together. Cora Steiger is a hoot as Randy. This is a stage family that feels like a real family (and two of them are!…Lolly Cooney also appears in the kids ensemble). 

The many kids in the show are personable, funny, strong singers and movers, and look like they are having the time of their lives. The adult ensemble is also strong and get to play everything from neighbors and friends, to Higbee’s department store elves. Alley Ellis turns in a particularly good performance as Miss Shields the teacher, as does Brian Cowan who plays a warm and entertaining Jean Shepherd (Narrator). 

But the show revolves around the family at the center of it all and this is where this production finds it’s strong beating heart. Only a Scrooge will not find themselves tearing up a bit in the show’s final moments…or perhaps during Grové’s “Just Like That” – one of the finest songs written about the small moments that go into being a mother (and why the song has become a staple on Broadway radio programming). 

Highest Recommendation.

A Christmas Story the Musical runs at the Encore Musical Theatre Company in Dexter MI through December 18th. Tickets at theencoretheatre.org or 734-268-6200.

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