Behind the Scenes with A Christmas Story in July

Lisa Condit speaks with Matt Lenze, director of A Christmas Story, the Musical. The show not only kicks off our Broadway series and holiday season, but also launches its own tour in Worcester. Listen to the July 29 WCRN interview below or read on for highlights.

Matt: The guys did a tremendous job of musicalizing such a beloved, really fun movie. It’s one of those things that just all fell together beautifully.

Lisa: Do you have a part in casting the actors?

Matt: Yes. This is our fourth year, but every year it’s almost an entirely new cast. In May, we all show up and wish each other Merry Christmas. We’ll do a first round, and then see where we are. Then usually in August we’ll bring the kids back who were in the show last year and see how much they’ve grown. Generally, we’ve ended up with new people, which keeps infusing new life into it. In an audition room, I always try to gauge their spirit. It really is energetic alchemy.

Lisa: And you’ve really made a name for yourself doing these really fun musicals like Hairspray. We’ve had Hairspray here at The Hanover Theatre before.

Matt: They both kind of have a sort of subversive humor about them. They both have offbeat, quirky families. There’s so much heart in it. My goal at the end is really everyone is unexpectedly moved by this kooky story. That’s one of the things that the musical gets to do, is sort of explore the family relationships. 

Lisa: How many double-dog and triple-dog dare-you’s are there on any given day?

Matt: The kids really get into it. This is their first big professional job. We’ve got all of the souvenirs and catch phrases. The kids really have a ball with that.

Lisa: Are there any songs you think our audience members should look out for?

Matt: There’s a great over-the-top production number when Ralphie imagines himself with the Red Ryder BB Gun. It starts with him daydreaming in his classroom and it explodes from there, with him imagining all these scenarios where he would save the day if he had a BB gun. And then there’s a great tap number with all the kids called “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.” He imagines himself going to a sort of speakeasy. It’s just great fun and unexpected. It uses those moments from the movie as a jumping point to create these big production numbers. We also have two blood hounds that travel with us. My favorite thing is showing up in the rehearsals and getting to see them.

What is your favorite “offbeat, quirky” moment from
A Christmas Story?

A Christmas Story the Musical opens our 2017-2018 Broadway season.