BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — It wouldn’t be Christmas without 9-year-old Ralphie and his unyielding passion for the Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle as from the classic movie “A Christmas Story.”

The film has been such a favorite of audiences since it was made 34 years ago that Fox is creating a live musical version to premiere Sunday (7 to 10 p.m.). Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who already cobbled a stage version, are back with some new songs and renewed enthusiasm.

Clockwise from top, Chris Diamantopoulos, Maya Rudolph, Andy Walken and Tyler Wladis star in Fox’s live musical event, “A Christmas Story Live!”, airing on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Fox

“I think we got so excited about adapting it for stage initially, because in addition to it being familiar and being beloved, the thing that we’re always looking for as songwriters, as composers, is finding what in the story sings. And what about this particular group of characters and this setting would allow us to write songs that really do something for the piece that otherwise wouldn’t be done,” says Paul, who mostly writes the music.

“That’s what we’re also planning on doing with the television broadcast. What can we do that’s just for TV, that’s very special – with the same story – because it does sing so much. There are characters who are larger than life. There’s a larger-than-life imagination at the center of the story. And it’s a kid with a really big ‘want’ at Christmastime. And those wants sing in a really special and exciting way, at least for us as songwriters,” he says.

Executive producer Marc Platt, who produced “Grease: Live” for Fox and is producing “A Christmas Story Live!,” says it won’t be anything like the stage play. “There are no rules here. This will not feel like you’re watching a stage presentation. When you’re in the life of a family, you will be live in the life of a family. By that I mean, specifically the environment in which you’re in, the way that the cameras move, and the way that it’s shot,” he says.

“The musical is constructed somewhat like the film in that many of the numbers become the fantasies in this wild imagination of this kid. So how one gets transported from a living room of a house to magically appear in a completely fantastical setting right before your eyes, is a part of the fun of the experience of watching live television.”

Audiences know the movie so well that the songwriters and producers have to stretch to create something original while maintaining the magic of the original, says Pasek.

“It’s really our responsibility to make sure that we’re digging into the emotional moments,” he says. “We can kind of write around the moments that you want to see as a scene, but then we can also enhance the moments that you want to see as fantasy and turn those into big production numbers.

“So it’s really a dance that we’re always trying to do to figure out how we can make a moment larger than life and realize it. And (to discern) how musicals can make a moment bigger than it can be just in dialogue. And then figure out how to preserve the moments that you really want to see and that you’re anticipating … So trying to find those kinds of balances, I think, is really important.”

While they won’t give away much, they do admit that Ralphie’s mom’s dire prediction that the Red Ryder BB gun will “shoot your eye out,” has to be part of the production.

“‘You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out’ is a big, big production number that happens in the show,” admits Pasek. “And it’s really exciting. And it’s the culmination of Ralphie really, really feeling down and out. And it becomes a big number with tap-dancing kids. And it really is larger than life. So ‘You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out’ is a big one.”

Another crucial number will commemorate the moment when the dad (the Old Man) wins a major award which turns out to be the hideous fish-net stockinged leg lamp. When Ralphie ogles the glowing Red Ryder Carbine BB gun in the window of Higbee’s department store is another golden moment for the songwriters.

“The theme of ‘A Christmas Story’ is really the Christmas we all had as kids,” says Platt. “It’s universal. It doesn’t matter what time period or it doesn’t matter what age. It doesn’t matter what your background is. Everybody has a story that’s relatable around Christmas or a nostalgic feeling about Christmas.”

One of the show’s new songs will reverberate with Christmases past, says Platt. “That will open us and take us back into the period, and take us back out at the end of the show into a celebration of Christmas that runs across decades. Because that’s what Christmas does. The spirit runs to everybody.”