The show is chock full of crowd-pleasing numbers and bits. The well-known set pieces from the movie are here: the tongue stuck to the flagpole, the leg lamp, and so on. But blown up Broadway style, these incidents take on a heavier mythic weight. "A Major Award," the glitzy production number that blossoms around the lamp episode, is pure extravagant shiny-gold fun, layering on new layers of leg lamps and leg lamp choreography until we can only stare in wonder. The multiple segments of the big number "Ralphie to the Rescue" impressively reinforce this effective staging-by-layers technique.
As a group the children are a supremely winning constellation of stars. Various members of the talented company of kids have individual funny, mugging moments "Up On Santa's Lap." The jazzy dance showpiece "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" is a fine vehicle for Ms. O'Connor's larger-than-life stage personality, but one heck of a tap dancing little boy named Luke Spring still manages to steal it.
Jazz also inspired the show's best song, "The Genius on Cleveland Street," while several of the more melodic numbers have more earworm potential than you find in the scores of most new musicals. This is Mr. Pasek and Mr. Paul's Broadway debut but the impression it leaves is of old, sure hands. They get plenty of help from seamless technicals, sets, and costumes, and from Mr. Rando's (Urinetown) warm-hearted and consummately crafted staging.
So take heart, fellow non-fans of the A Christmas Story movie. You can enjoy this show right alongside your Ralphie-obsessed friends this holiday season, and – if the movie is a good model – perhaps for many to come.