Theater review: 'A Christmas Westside Story' at Falcon Theatre
Call it a toy story with finger snapping. The Troubadour Theater Company’s irresistible “A Christmas Westside Story” at the Falcon Theatre mashes up the campy 1983 movie about a boy and a BB gun with the iconic Bernstein-Sondheim musical. The result is giddy holiday fun even Officer Krupke could love.
Ralphie (Matt Walker, who also directs) is neither a Jet nor a Shark, but a blond, bespectacled kid gasping toward puberty. At the top of his Christmas list is a Red Rider 200 Shot Range Air Rifle, a choice unpopular with his parents (Leah Sprecher and Rick Batalla), who rework the lyrics of “A Boy Like That” to warn their son: “A toy like that / you’ll shoot your eye out! / Forget that toy / Or you will cry out!” They don’t understand that when love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong.
This inventive romp finds ingenious use for the musical’s best numbers (nimbly played by the onstage band, led by Eric Heinly). Highlights include Ralphie’s duet with his fantasy firearm (a smokin’ Katherine Malak) to the tune of “Maria,” and “Cool,” a frenzied ballet in which the neighborhood kids dare Flick (Joseph Keane) into licking a frozen flag pole. And that weird leg lamp from “A Christmas Story” (Monica Schneider) gets to sing “I Feel Pretty.”
The Troubies can skate the thin ice between the sublime and just sloppy, but here, the energized, Fosse-style dance numbers (tightly choreographed by Molly Alvarez) buy time for the cast to goof off and harass the audience (latecomers, you have been warned). Tony and Maria longed for “peace and quiet and open air.” Maybe they all they needed was dinner and a show in Burbank.
“A Christmas Westside Story” Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank. 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 4 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Jan. 15. $27 to $42. Contact: (818) 955-8101 or www.FalconTheatre.com. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.
Photo: (l to r) Matt Walker, Brandon Breault and Suzanne Jolie Narbonne. Credit: Chelsea Sutton.