A Christmas Story Live!
|A Christmas Story Live!|
|Narrated by||Matthew Broderick|
|Composer(s)||Pasek & Paul|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Production location(s)||Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, California|
|Running time||180 minutes (with commercials)|
133 minutes (without commercials)
|Original release||December 17, 2017|
A Christmas Story Live! is a television special that was originally broadcast by Fox on December 17, 2017. It was a live, televised musical remake of the 1983 film A Christmas Story, and incorporated the 2012 stage musical version A Christmas Story: The Musical. The live musical was executive produced by Marc Platt and Adam Siegel, directed by Scott Ellis and Alex Rudzinski, and starred Matthew Broderick, Andy Walken, Maya Rudolph, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Jane Krakowski.
A Christmas Story Live! is based on "the short stories of humorist Jean Shepherd and is set in 1940s Indiana. It follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his unrelenting desire to get his hands on a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas."
Cast and characters
The Parker Family
- Andy Walken as Ralphie Parker
- Maya Rudolph as Mother
- Chris Diamantopoulos as The Old Man
- Tyler Wladis as Randy Parker
- Jane Krakowski as Miss Shields
- Sammy Ramirez as Schwartz
- JJ Batteast as Flick
- Sacha Carlson as Scut Farkus
- Elie Samouhi as Grover Dill
- Abigail Dylan Harrison as Louise
- Artyon Celestine as Richie
- Hayley Shukiar as Esther Jane
- Ana Gasteyer as Mrs. Schwartz
- Ken Jeong as Tree Salesman/Restaurant Owner
- David Alan Grier as Mall Santa
- Fred Armisen as Mall Elf
- PRETTYMUCH as Hohman Indiana carolers
Two songs were created exclusively for the live broadcast that were not originally present in the original Broadway production including "Count On Christmas," and "In the Market for a Miracle." In addition, three songs from the Broadway production were cut or reworked. "Overture" and "Parker Family Singalong" were both cut, while "Act One Finale" was reworked as "Ralphie's Nightmare." The song "Up on Santa's Lap" was included in the television broadcast, but not included on the Christmas Story Live! album.
- Opening number
- Song was written specifically for the television production.
The production was based on A Christmas Story: The Musical, which in turn was based on the 1983 film. Marc Platt reprised his role as co-executive producer from the live television musical (2016) of Grease: Live, joined by Adam Siegel, and television director Alex Rudzinski and theatrical director Scott Ellis. It was broadcast from the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California, primarily using outdoor sets. Ellis noted that emphasis on the "feeling of family" was an important aspect of the production, as "it's not just razzle-dazzle stuff and big musical numbers. Our challenge is to never lose sight of the family aspect. And I think — I hope — we've succeeded in that." Songwriting duo Pasek & Paul, who wrote the songs for A Christmas Story: The Musical, wrote three new songs for the production, including "In the Market for a Miracle" for Mrs. Schwartz, "Ralphie's Nightmare" for the Parker family, and the opening theme "Count on Christmas".
Pasek noted that the team had to try and maintain a balance between preserving the familiar and iconic aspects of the film, while also expanding upon it through its musical format. He explained that "there are certain moments where we want to stay true to what people remember and then there's other moments where we have permission to do what only musical theater can do and turn the dad's fantasy into a tap dancing number." Platt remarked that when working on a project such as this, "you prepare for the unknown. That's what makes live TV exciting. There are certain things that happen that you can't anticipate".
Unlike previous years, NBC did not broadcast a live musical for the 2017 holiday season; while it did plan to produce a version of Bye Bye Birdie executive produced by and starring Jennifer Lopez, it was delayed into 2018 (later delayed into 2019) to accommodate Lopez's schedule. The broadcast ultimately competed against ABC's annual presentation of the film The Sound of Music, as well as NBC's Sunday Night Football between the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders.
During the special, Fox also broadcast a live, 2-and-a-half-minute commercial for The Greatest Showman, a then-upcoming musical film that also featured songs written by Pasek and Paul. The spot, which was directed by Michael Gracey and Beth McCarthy-Miller, and also simulcast on Facebook, featured a performance of the number "Come Alive" with the film's stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Keala Settle, and Zendaya. The presentation was billed as the first live television commercial for a film.
A Christmas Story Live! received mixed to negative reviews, with the general audience reacting more harshly than professional critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the production received a 46% rating based on 13 critics' reviews and 32% based on 56 audience reviews. The show's three-hour length and musical numbers drew the most negative reactions, as Fox did not promote the program as a musical, and the lavish Broadway musical numbers were perceived to clash with the story's Midwestern setting. However, most of the individual actors' performances were positively received, as were the technical aspects of the special (such as scene and wardrobe changes).
The Los Angeles Times praised the performers: "...Matthew Broderick, who found his own, gentler way through Shepherd's pointy prose...Maya Rudolph was affecting as Ralphie's mother, Chris Diamantopoulos gruff if less than epic as his father, the Old Man...Andy Walken was a good visual match for the movie's Peter Billingsley,...The whole company of kids, in fact, was energetic and on their marks,... Schwartz's mother, previously an offended voice on the other end of a phone call, was here gloriously embodied by Ana Gasteyer, who brought in a Hanukkah theme..." but noted that "...the virtues that have made the movie a seasonal perennial were somewhat swallowed by the narrative digressions and showstopping gestures of the musical."
The overnight Nielsen ratings were a 2.8 rating/5 share with 4.52 million viewers, as compared to the Fox network live telecast of Grease: Live in January 2016, which earned a 7.4 overnight and 12 million viewers.
Awards and nominations
|70th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics||Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
(for "In the Market for a Miracle")
|34th Artios Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Casting –
Live Television Performance, Variety or Sketch Comedy
|Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield,
Rachel Hoffman, & Rachel Dill (Associate)
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