Lyric Music Theater presents ‘A Christmas Story, the musical’ this December. Courtesy photo/ Stanley Kimball

SOUTH PORTLAND –Lyric Music Theater is presenting “A Christmas Story, the Musical,” based on one of the favorite movies of the holiday season. Featuring a book by Joseph Robinette and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — know for the film “LaLa Land” — the movie the play is based on was made in 1983 and distributed by Warner Bros. The local production is directed by Don Smith and Kate Whalen. The show opens on Dec. 1 and runs until Dec.17.

The musical brings the movie to life on stage. The story is set in the 1940s in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, and follows 9-year-old boy Ralphie Parker’s quest for the Red Ryder gun. The musical encompasses the infamous leg lamp, bunny pajamas, and the department store Santa scenes from the film.

Marketing director Whalen, who also co-directs the show said “I certainly can’t speak for the writers of the musical, but I can say that from the perspective of staging the show, there is a delicate balance between paying homage to the iconic and well-known moments in the musical, while also making it our own. We don’t want our cast members to copy the movie, but we also know that since it is so well-known, some of our audience might have expectations that are more in line with the movie.”

The musical reimagines iconic scenes. A memorable moment from the movie, the tongue to the flagpole, is transformed into a musical number titled “Sticky Situation.”

In making the play their own, Whalen highlighted the role of the narrator, Jean Shepherd, as an on-stage character, creating an interplay between storytelling and memories.

“The musical also has so much heart, not that the movie doesn’t, but the complicated and beautiful relationship between father and son is really the heart of the show and shines through in the musical adaptation,” she said.


Whalen said she and Smith and teamed up for “Curtains” in the spring of 2023 as director and choreographer, respectively. They enjoyed working together so much, that they were teamed up for “A Christmas Story” even before “Curtains” closed.

“The vision for the show focuses heavily on this being a memory, through the lens of both an adult looking back, and the eyes of a 10-year-old boy. So that shaped the way that certain elements of the show are over-exaggerated some dramatic acting, for example,” Whalen said.

“While it is a show centered around the Christmas holiday, the themes in the show, particularly that of the love between parents and their children, and father and son, are timeless,” she said. “Our hope is that our audiences see something in the show that reminds them of a memory from their childhood, maybe a character that reminds them of a family member, or just a happy time in their life. There are many moments that fill me with happiness or joy, and some tears too.

The cast participated in a children’s event at the South Portland Public Library, reading stories, performing a song from the show, and assisting with crafts.

“I had several parents of attendees tell me how much they loved bringing their children to see children performing. That it’s inspirational. And we have a lot of kids in this show, 15 to be exact. They come from different towns, different schools, and different backgrounds, but they all share a love of theater,” said Whalen.

Special events are planned around the production include a pay-what-you-can sensory-friendly matinee on Dec. 9, which will be ASL interpreted.

The production team organized an Instagram contest, asking people to share their favorite lines or moments from the movie, with the prize being two tickets to opening night. Regular updates, including photos of the cast and teasers of the set and costumes, are shared on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.

The musical is running from Dec. 1 to 17. The tickets cost $25, with a discounted rate of $20 for seniors and children aged 12 and under. For more information and ticket purchases, visit The theater is located at 176 Sawyer St. in South Portland.

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