The 1983 movie “A Christmas Story,” a tale about a boy that yearns for a BB gun for Christmas, has won viewers' hearts for three decades. The classic film has hit the stage in Boston, now showing at the Wang Theatre through Dec. 8. The story on screen and on stage digs deeper into family dynamics, as well as the value of both fantasies and realities, than just a boys' simple holiday hopes. The Globe's Don Aucoin writes about how the stage version is faithful to the film's spirit. With that in mind, here are seven lessons learned from “A Christmas Story, The Musical."
1. Mom really does knows best
Ralphie’s mom shows that sometimes it takes a little creative genius to trick children into following direction. She urges Randy, Ralphie’s younger brother who has not eaten voluntarily in three years, to finish his dinner by encouraging him to eat like a pig. This essentially means pushing his face into his plate and slopping up his mashed potatoes. It’s not pretty, but Randy eats his dinner, and mom is happy.
2. Sometimes it’s smarter NOT to take the dare
Warning: When someone “triple dog dares” you to stick your tongue to a freezing flagpole — just as Ralphie’s friend Schwartz does to his friend Flick — don’t do it. You may take some grief from your buds, but at least you won’t spend an afternoon in the cold with your tongue stuck to a flagpole.
3. It’s always better NOT to get caught
It could probably be said that most people haven’t thought they've been in at least one situation where lying could get them out of trouble. And for Ralphie and Schwartz, this was exactly the case. When their teacher, Miss Shields, asks who dared poor Flick to stick his tongue against the flagpole, both boys keep their mouths shut —even after Miss Shields tries to guilt them into spilling the beans. Their silence results in avoiding an unknown (but probably horrible) punishment.
4. Determination really does pay off
You’ve probably heard the old adage, If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And when watching the persistence of Ralphie’s old man as he enters one crossword puzzle contest after another, we see how he takes this adage to heart. In the end: The Old Man wins "a major award,” which is celebrated in style in the theater production as he sings about his accomplishment — a tacky lamp in the shape of a woman's leg adorned in a black stocking -- in a dream sequence showcasing a stage full of life-size lamps of its kind.
5. Whatever you do, DON’T say “fudge” in front of the ‘rents
Or, in the case of Ralphie, letting the “queen mother of dirty words” slip when he’s helping his father fix a flat tire. The end result: You still get your mouth stuffed with soap even after blaming your best friend for teaching you the very bad word, when in reality, you learned it from your dad who says it several times a day.
6. Dreams help make life more bearable
It’s true even for the realists out there. Ralphie uses his fantasies to help him cope with his childhood, daily routine, especially when it comes to imagining ways to reach his end goal: Get his Red Ryder® Carbine-Actions 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas. His imagination allows him to be the hero, saving his teacher, his friends, and his family, thanks to his rifle. When you allow yourself to dream, even the most impossible seems possible.
7. Life has a funny way of surprising us
Ralphie thinks all is lost after he’s shot down on each attempt at obtaining his most coveted Christmas gift, hearing “You’ll shoot your eye out!”, by his mom, teacher, and even Santa. But come Christmas morning, there’s his Red Ryder® Carbine-Actions 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. Just when you think you know the outcome of a situation and you’re about to give up, life has other plans.
You tell us: All Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder® Carbine-Actions 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. What was your most coveted Christmas gift? Share the present you simply had to have here. And let us know what other lessons you've learned from "A Christmas Story, The Musical."
"A Christmas Story." $45-$125. Showing now through Dec, 8. Citi Performing Arts Center: Wang Theatre. 270 Tremont St., Boston. 800-982-2787. www.citicenter.org
Stephanie Callahan is a native Bostonian who loves cooking, traveling, spa treatments, and being on the ocean.
Meghan Colloton is a Bostonian who loves traveling, channeling her inner Julia Child, and trying weird things -- from food to bungee jumping.
Milva DiDomizio is a New England native who's fond of cooking, singing, and Boston's arts and culture scene.
Rachel Raczka is a Bostonian who enjoys buttercream frosting, gin cocktails, and conquering cobblestone streets in high heels.
Emily Sweeney is a Boston native who goes out all over, from Irish pubs in Southie to the roller rink in Dorchester.
Emily Wright is a native Cape Codder who enjoys exercising, baking, and the occasional guilty pleasure action movie.