Elysa Gardner, USA Today: But would A Christmas Story: The Musical (* * * out of four) live up to the memories and expectations of those who had loved the movie -- and fans of Jean Shepherd, the writer and radio personality whose semi-autobiographical accounts of small-town life inspired it? The answer, based on audience reaction at a recent preview at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where the musical opened Monday, is a resounding yes.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: There are also bright spots during the show’s 2 hours, including the bouncy “Ralphie to the Rescue!” The twangy tune finds Ralphie fantasizing about being a hero with his rifle. The best scene comes with the jazzy “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.” Thanks to Warren Carlyle’s delicious tap-happy choreography and a gleaming gang of young hoofers, it’s great big fun. So much so you wish for more of the same. But not everyone’s as lucky as Ralphie — you can’t always get what you want.
Matt Windman, AM New York: I have an unusual Christmas wish this year: I want fewer Christmas musicals going forward...In “A Christmas Story,” which is extremely faithful to the film, 9-year-old bespectacled Ralphie (played by the big-voiced Johnny Rabe) longs to receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas in 1940s Indiana The central problem in mounting a stage version lies with depicting the adult Ralphie, who serves as the film’s off-screen narrator. Here, Dan Lauria wanders aimlessly around the stage and speaks directly to the audience, rather like a Ghost of Christmas Future. His presence makes the storytelling clunky and disjointed. That said, the real perk of “A Christmas Story” lies in its highly melodic, original score by the up-and-coming team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Come to think of it, here’s a better Christmas wish: more new musicals by Pasek and Paul.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: Fans of “A Christmas Story” can breathe easy: The charming musical that opened last night on Broadway, after touring the Midwest last year, succeeds both as an adaptation and on its own terms.
Linda Winer, Newsday: This is called "A Christmas Story," not "The Christmas Story," so, parents, please take note. The musical based on the popular 1983 movie is neither candy-cane sweet nor sacred. In fact, not much is sacred in this droll, imaginative, definitely and a bit defiantly off-center tale of a 9-year-old bespectacled kid named Ralphie and a flawed but loving family in Indiana in the 1940s. That is, 9-year-olds (and up) and their flawed, loving parents are probably the target audience for the newest addition to the holiday offerings, wickedly directed by John Rando ("Urinetown") with a clever and enjoyable score by newcomers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul ("Dogfight"). The humor is not so much politically incorrect as, well, politically retro and a little dark...I could live without the awful joke about Chinese accents, the blue joke about the bowling ball, the playground line "when you act like a fruit, you get crushed like a grape." Even if kids liked to talk like that, Broadway should not endorse it.
Scott Brown, NY Magazine: A Christmas Story is what happens when rare respect for source material meets utter sincerity and unimpeachable talent. (Only one moment doesn't stand the test of time: I believe Western culture may be ready to retire the familiar and beloved and, yes, ragingly offensive scene where the waitstaff of a Chinese restaurant serenade the family with "Deck de harrs with hows of horry!") Jean Shepherd's America — whether it ever existed or not — is in excellent hands.
Tanner Stransky, Entertainment Weekly: ...the stage adaptation plays like a heart-tugging, best-of version of the movie, with a saccharine score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and a book by Joseph Robinette that desperately panders for laughs...The musicals pleasures are far and wide: Dan Lauria is steady as an older version of Ralphie, who narrates the story. Johnny Rabe, who played Ralphie at my performance, did a nice job of wrangling the curmudgeonly, hopeful nature of his character. Zac Ballard, as younger brother Randy, is a delight. Director John Rando borrows film techniques like freeze-frame and simulated slow motion to great effect. The show feels too long, particularly in the first act...And of course, the whole production is super-duper schmaltzy. But it's Christmas. On Broadway. In the winter wonderland of New York City. And a pink bunny suit is involved. For the most part, A Christmas Story: The Musical isexactly what you expect. B+