America's Oldest · Founded 1808

A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL - The Hilarious Holiday Musical Makes Its Philadelphia Debut! Now - Jan. 10

October 27, 2015

Philadelphia, PA: Walnut Street Theatre continues its landmark 207th season with the Philadelphia premiere of A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical, following two triumphant sold-out seasons on Broadway. Directed by James Rocco, with choreography by Linda Goodrich, A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical begins previews on November 10th, opens on November 18th and runs through January 10th on the WST Mainstage.

A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical is the musical comedy gift audiences will cherish all holiday long. In 1940's Indiana, a bespectacled boy named Ralphie has a big imagination and one wish for Christmas - a Red Ryder BB Gun. A kooky leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a cranky department store Santa and a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the obstacles that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas dream. Based on the classic 1983 movie, A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical captures holiday wonder with funny and heartfelt songs, show stopping dance numbers, delicious wit and a heart of gold.

A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical opened at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in 2010, followed by a national tour in 2011. The show saw its Broadway debut at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in the fall of 2012, where it opened to critical acclaim. The musical returned to New York in 2013 for a limited engagement at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. It received Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score, as well as six Drama Desk nominations and two Outer Critics Circle nominations.

Joseph Robinette (book) is the author or co-author of 55 published plays and musicals. His work has been produced in all 50 states and in 21 foreign countries. Twelve of his works have been translated into foreign languages, and another five have been anthologized. The story is based on the semi-autobiographical writings of Jean Shepherd and the popular 1983 holiday film, which Shepherd narrated and co-scripted.

The show features an original score by dynamite award-winning composer/lyricist team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Pasek is local to the area, having grown up in Ardmore, PA, and is thrilled to see this show make its Philadelphia premiere, noting “Growing up, I attended many wonderful musicals at Walnut Street Theatre that helped nurture my love of the art form. I can’t believe that now, one of my own shows will be presented there. It’s a real full circle moment for me, and I look forward sharing it with my Philadelphia family and friends.”

Pasek and Paul are also the composers of the off-Broadway musical Dogfight, which was awarded the Lucille Lortel Outstanding Musical Award, as well as Edges, James and the Giant Peach, Duck for President and If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Most recently the duo wrote music and lyrics for Dear Evan Hansen, with direction by Michael Grief, which is heading to New York. On television, their original songs were featured on season two of NBC's Smash and can be seen on Sesame Street and Johnny and the Sprites.

A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical marks James Rocco’s Walnut directorial debut. Currently the Vice President and Producing Artistic Director of The Ordway in St. Paul, MN, during Rocco’s impressive career he has worked as a producer, actor, choreographer, writer and director. At the Walnut, he performed as The Witch in the 1992 production of Into the Woods. Among his numerous credits, he created the musical staging for The Wizard of Oz, starring Roseanne, Eartha Kitt, and Mickey Rooney at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden and co-wrote and directed the off-Broadway revue Streakin!. His New York directing credits include Sweeney Todd, Nite Club Confidential and Elegies. Additional credits, national and international, include: 33 Variations, As Bees in Honey Drown, The Bad Seed, Lionmaker (World Premiere), Into the Woods, Grey Gardens, Love Janis (Ivey Award); Yankee Doodle (World Premiere), Superstar, Chess, Pirates of Penzance, Singin’ in the Rain., Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Sweeney Todd and Crazy For You (Ovation Award Nominee).

Linda Goodrich joins Rocco as choreographer and Douglass G. Lutz as music and vocal director. Goodrich returns following Walnut’s production of Mary Poppins. She has choreographed the European tour of Cabaret and the national tour of Singin in the Rain. Her work has also been seen at theatres including Radio City Music Hall, Paper Mill Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House and Music Theatre Wichita. Lutz returns to the Walnut following High Society. His additional Walnut credits include 9 To 5, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Elf, In the Heights, Grease, The Music Man, Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof and The King and I.

Creating the warmth of Christmas as seen through the wide eyed memories of childhood, J Branson returns as set designer following Walnut’s 2014 production of Mary Poppins. His work has been seen on the national tours of The Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, Brigadoon and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Joining him is costume designer Mary Folino (High Society), lighting designer Paul Black (High Society, How to Succeed…), as well as sound designer, and Walnut newcomer, Zach Williamson. William Berloni is the Animal Trainer for the production, with Oliver and Sammy playing The Bumpus Hounds.

The head of the Parker family household, The Old Man, will be played by Christopher Sutton. Sutton was most recently seen on the Walnut’s stage as Huey Calhoun in Memphis, with additional credits including Buddy the Elf in Elf and the title role in The Buddy Holly Story. Lyn Philistine, Sutton’s real-life wife, will play opposite of him as Mother. Philistine performed as part of A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical national tour, and was last seen in Independence Studio on 3’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Craig Mulhern Jr of Egg Harbor Township, NJ and Liam Keenan of Pottstown, PA will share the role of Ralphie, the wide-eyed boy with a Christmas dream. Ralphie’s little brother Randy will be shared by Collin Jeffery of Wilmington, DE and Timmy Woodward of East Greenville, PA.

Bill Van Horn joins the cast as Jean Shepherd, the narrator leading us through his fantastic childhood memory. Walnut audiences will remember Van Horn as Admiral Boon in Mary Poppins and Santa in Elf. Ellie Mooney will play Miss. Shields, the tapping teacher full of life lessons. Mooney was last seen at the Walnut as Miss Lark in Mary Poppins, and in Studio 3’s I Love a Piano. Following her last performance in Studio 3’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Melissa Joy Hart returns as Mrs. Schwartz. With a hearty “ho, ho, ho,” Fran Prisco returns as the big man himself, Santa Claus. Walnut audiences will remember Prisco from his performances in Memphis and 9 To 5, the Musical.

The ensemble includes Jennie Eisenhower (Arsenic and Old Lace), Billy D. Hart (9 To 5, The Musical), Jesse Jones (High Society), Scott Langdon (How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying), Nichalas L. Parker (Memphis), Kerri Rose (White Christmas), Nicholas F. Saverine (The Music Man), Christopher Shin (Mel Brooks’ The Producers), Alanna Smith (Fancy Nancy, The Musical) and Adrienne S. Wells (High Society). Joining them are Walnut newcomers Don Daniels, Bonnie Kelly, Jessica Mary Murphy and Rochelle Smith (Dog Handler). Andrew Eckert (Mary Poppins) and Jenny Piersol (Mary Poppins) will also take on roles behind-the-scenes as Dance Captain and Kids Dance Captain, respectively.

The youngest members of the cast are all local to the Philadelphia area and students of The Theatre School at Walnut Street Theatre. Tongue-to-pole, the role of Flick will be shared by Josiah Jacoby of Egg Harbor Township, NJ and Jakob Kleeman of Philadelphia, PA. The triple-dog-daring Schwartz will be played by Jacob Wilner of Malvern, PA and Marco Porras of Cherry Hill, NJ. The bully Scut Farkus will be shared by Anthony Flamminio of Drexel Hill, PA and Zach Anderson of Yardley, PA and his friend Grover Dill shared by Aidan Brito of Philadelphia, PA and Luke Plunkett of Wilmington, DE.

The children’s ensemble includes: Lexi Gwynn of Malvern, PA and Cambria Klein of Haddon Heights, NJ, both returning after appearing in High Society; Rachel McVey of East Norriton, PA; Portia Murphy and Cameron Flurry of Newtown, PA; Noah Scher of Bala Cynwyd, PA; Gabrielle Schoener of Chalfont, PA; Jack Prisco and Julianna Zannikos of Doylestown, PA; Matthew Saylor of Chester Springs, PA; Alanna Stein of Voorhees, NJ; Nick Williams of Moorestown, NJ; and Jordan Budney and Jillian Henderson of Cherry Hill, NJ.

A CHRISTMAS STORY, The Musical runs at the Walnut November 10 through January 10. Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, December 6 performance. The Monday, December 28 performance will be ASL interpreted and Audio Described This production is sponsored by Stradley Ronon. Media Partners are NBC 10 and Metro Philadelphia. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting or Ticketmaster.