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story.lead_photo.caption Becca Martin (from left), Chris Carsten, Maisie Van Vleet and Kailyn Rose Sanders with the Walton Art Center: A Christmas Story the Musical in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's podcast studio Wednesday Dec. 11, 2019 in Fayetteville. - Photo by Spencer Tirey

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The musical version of the beloved 1983 holiday movie “A Christmas Story” is on stage right now at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.

Chris Carsten, who portrays Jean Shepherd, the narrator of the story and author of the original book; Maisie Van Vleet, who plays Esther Jane, Ralphie’s “love interest”; and Kailyn Rose Sanders, who plays Nancy, stopped by our podcast studio to chat about the show with Features Editor Becca Martin-Brown. The girls are both tweens with acting experience since preschool, and Carsten is a veteran in the role — and Maisie’s real-life dad.

Deb Harvell of the features staff got to see the show Tuesday evening and we asked her to review the show in a few sentences:

A few sentences? I don't even know how to sum it up, but here goes:

Walton Arts Center was packed last night for the opening of "A Christmas Story: The Musical” — as well it should have been.

I was smiling from the opening act until the final curtain, thoroughly entertained by the story of the Parker family and the weaving of the tapestry that made their Christmas story so memorable.

From the talented young actors and actresses tapping their way through Western scenes with Ralphie saving the day to the Bumpus' hounds devouring the sacred Christmas turkey, the cast was superb.

There were so many things to enjoy about the show for children and adults alike. Ralphie's quest for a Red Rider BB gun was sure to trigger every child's angst over their gifts, while the song "What a Mother Does" nearly brought tears to my eyes. When Old Man Parker won his "Major Award," he brought the house down by quite literally making a Broadway production out of his prowess.

If you get an opportunity, go see the show. Wear your pink rabbit outfit, as one member of the audience did last night; your favorite sweatshirt, with the warning "You'll put your eye out!" emblazoned on the front; or dress in your finest — everyone seemed perfectly comfortable, and I think was thrilled with the performance. I know I was.


‘A Christmas Story: The Musical’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Dec. 11; 1:30 & 7 p.m. Dec. 12; 8 p.m. Dec. 13; 2 & 8 p.m. Dec. 14; 2 p.m. Dec. 15

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $40-$91

INFO — 443-5600,

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