Saturday December 16th 2017

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Theater”

christmas3It is not often that I get to take a short drive for a new look at one of my favorite stories, and tonight, was supposed to be one of those special nights. I do get to visit the Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Marriott Theatre  (Lincolnshire)and of course the charming Oil Lamp in Glenview, but tonight was Citadel’s opening night production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical”, Jean Shepherd’s movie turned musical with a new book by Joseph Robinette and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. I LOVED the film, having seen it probably two dozen times, and after having seen the musical several times over the past few years, realize that it is one of the few that convert easily.

Here I was, arriving in Lake Forest for an opportunity to watch this lavish musical in a more intimate venue. Holy Toledo, that was exciting! Last year’s amazing production in Aurora blew us away, but I always felt that this show would play better in a smaller venue without the glitz and glitter, because after all “A Christmas Story” itself is an intimate story about Ralphie Parker’s quest to get a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 shot air rifle for Christmas, despite his mother’s warnings that he “will shoot his eye out”! The ups and downs for the Parker family through the Christmas season is filled with love, traditions, insanity and happiness on top of sadness. Ralphie and his little brother and their friends are characters that will remind you of everyone you knew growing up, all your cousins and neighbors that you played with, fought with and adored, as well as hated.

Now, here is the “rest of the story” (as Paul Harvey would have said). I arrived at the theater tonight, checked in, asking why the parking lots lights had gone off upon arrival. It was still 30 minutes to curtain, so why not keep the lights on? As it turns out, the earlier storms and the high winds had caused havoc with the power lines of Lake Forest and the building was on auxiliary power, which was not enough to run a sound system and lighting board for a full -scale musical production. A full house of patrons waited in the outer lobby to see what Commonwealth Edison would say. They waited and waited, and then we got the word. Artistic Director Scott Phelps (who himself is in this production) announced that the “powers to be” (a little electrical humor on my part) said that if all went as planned, the power would be up and running close to ten p.m.- What? How can a show featuring half a cast of under 14- year- old actors do a show that runs close to two-hours-thirty-minutes and start at 10? That would bring it to a close around 12:30 in the a.m.!christmas2

So despite a cast ready and anxious to perform and an audience that was sold out and anticipating a special evening, the Citadel Theatre had no choice but to cancel the performance for tonight. Scott assured me that he would make sure that I would get my opportunity to review the show and that all of those who were supposed to see tonight’s performance will get in, and that they will, in all likelihood have to add some performances to the schedule. I will tell you this- the set is pretty special, allowing for a very intimate space to tell the entire story and they are using live music. I was also advised that thanks to the generosity of the Saints (this is the organization that ushers at almost every local theater) and the grant they gave to Citadel, they were able to take on a state of the art control board allowing for better sound equipment and better hearing for the audience. As a patron of the theater, I salute the “Saints” for their devotion and their generosity.

Here is THE current schedule for “A Christmas Story” the Musical- NOW thru December 18th with performances:

christmasThursdays (starting 12/1)  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  1 p.m. on 12/10 and 12/17

Sundays  3 p.m.

Wednesday matinees on 12/7 and 12/14 BUT at 11 a.m.

Tickets range from  $35- $38 with special discounts for seniors and students

Call847-735-8554 or visit

The theater is located at 300 South Waukegan Road in Lake Forest with loads of free parking

coming to town, need a place to dine? Check out Marigold Maison, inovasi, Market House on the Square, all offering discounts for Citadel

By the way, when you order your tickets use code Story5, save $5

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