"A CHRISTMAS STORY" SPARKLES WITH SEASONAL SPIRIT

By Bonnie Goldberg

Actor Dan Lauria is busy unwrapping a new musical for the holidays, "A Christmas Story," as well as a brand new book he has co-authored with his godson's mother Cathryn Farnsworth "The Blue Hair Club," perfect for gift giving. In fact, he might suggest both as perfect presents for all the children in your life.

Lauria is the perpetual perfect parent, first for more than five years as the grumpy dad in "The Wonder Years" to Fred Savage's character Kevin Arnold and more recently as the dad to a corporate attorney Steve Sullivan who goes home to visit his folks in Pittsburgh and ends up running the family tavern in "Sullivan and Son." The role of dad is being transformed this time around in "A Christmas Story The Musical" dancing on golden wings through the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford until Sunday, November 17.

This time Lauria does not play papa. Instead he is the narrator Jean Shepherd, the author of this semi-autobiographical piece. Nine year old Ralphie Parker, a precious, precocious and single-minded Jake Lucas, has only one thing on his Christmas list:  a real Red Ryder Carbine-Actions 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. No other BB guns need apply. Despite parental warnings that he will surely shoot his eye out, Ralph is willing to go to great lengths to ensure that one gift and one gift only will be waiting for him Christmas morning under the tree.

Forget pajamas and underwear. Ralph is willing to fight for his prize, even if it means taking on everyone from his fearful mother to unhelpful department store Santas. He'll go up against dogs and bullies and even turkeys to get his goal, and along the way Ralph and friends will sing and dance their way into your heart. Based on a series of stories by humorist Jean Shepherd, with sweet and sentimental and silly songs by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek and book by Joseph Robinette, the story is set in a simpler and gentler time in fictional Hohman, Indiana in 1940, under the direction of John Rando.

For tickets ($25.50-96.50), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are tonight at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Come and watch for a pink bunny suit, a lady's leg lamp, dogs chasing a turkey dinner and an abundance of holiday humor.

posted 11.12.13

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