Fox’s A Christmas Story Live!, featuring a score by Tony and Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, aired December 17. Now a staple of the holidays season, the live television musical events began with NBC’s The Sound of Music Live and have continued to bring musical theatre to homes across the nation. Read reviews here.
Here’s a look at the 9 elements of the broadcast the cast and crew absolutely nailed:
1. Christmas in California
A Christmas Story Live! was shot in California, but takes place in wintery Indiana, so fake snow had to be devised for the production’s many outdoor sets. Three different types of fake snow were used: the bulk is made of soap, but snow that is physically played with by actors is legitimate fake snow made from water, and visible falling snow is actually paper. Luckily it all looks like the real stuff to the camera!
2. The Greatest Showman Live Commercial!
Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Keala Settle, and the cast of The Greatest Showman (out December 20), the latest original film musical from A Christmas Story writers Pasek and Paul, delivered an incredible live commercial for the film during one of the commercial breaks. It was pure musical magic.
3. Chris Diamantopoulos’ Quick Costume Change in “A Major Award”
Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long is known for his impressive quick costume changes—anyone who saw the recent Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella or Fox’s Grease: Live can attest to that—and A Christmas Story Live! was no exception. During “A Major Award,” the camera pulled in for a close-up on Chris Diamantopoulos in his Old Man Parker costume, and seconds later the camera pulled out to reveal a seemingly miraculous change into a full tuxedo. Also look for the broadcast’s credits, to find behind-the-scenes video footage of how this effect was achieved!
4. Jane Krakowski Pulling Out Her Triple-Threat Talents
Before she was starring on 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jane Krakowski was a Broadway Baby. The triple threat showed off all her skills on Broadway in 2016's She Loves Me, and here they were on full display again with her old-school Hollywood number “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.” That was some pretty amazing tapping from Krakowski and the kid chorus.
5. The Bumpus Dogs' Surprising Origin Story
The dogs of A Christmas Story Live! carried on a rich tradition of musical theatre dogs that began with Sandy in Annie—they were all rescues. However, unlike Sandy, the Christmas Story dogs did not come from a usual dog shelter. They were rescued from a zoo in Japan! Look out for a commercial bumper towards the beginning of the broadcast that shows how the dogs were trained to act for the camera.
6. The Chinese Restaurant Scene Gets a Christmas Makeover
If there’s a place where the warmhearted 1983 film hits a major bump in the road, it’s the racist tropes used in the Chinese restaurant scene. The creative team for A Christmas Story Live! deserves “a major award” for turning the moment around, and finding new comedic moments, while giving a nod to the original film. Ken Jeong, who played the restaurant owner, introduced a staff of singing waiters who delivered perfect pop harmony on “Deck the Halls.” In a reference to the film, Jeong turned to the camera and said, “What were you expecting?”
7. Ana Gasteyer’s “Market for a Miracle”
A Chanukah miracle happened right in the middle of A Christmas Story Live! with an all-new number written for Mrs. Schwartz, a character without much screen time in the 1983 film. In the live musical adaptation Mrs. Schwartz becomes a completely developed character, and Ana Gasteyer had one of the highlights of the night, delivering “Market for a Miracle,” a brand-new Pasek and Paul number.