The Tennessean Review: A Christmas Story

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 'A Christmas Story' renews holiday wonder

by Amy Stumpfl

There’s nothing quite like a gathering of old friends to put you in the holiday spirit. And with its always-charming production of “A Christmas Story,” Nashville Repertory Theatre makes everyone feel like family.

This may be The Rep’s eighth annual staging of Jean Shepherd’s timeless tale. But under the watchful eye of producing artistic director René D. Copeland, it never misses a step. In fact, the story of young Ralphie (and his tireless quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun) feels fresh as ever, balancing all the cherished moments of the iconic 1983 film with the energy and spirit that only live theater can offer.

I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but Derek Whittaker seems even more at home this year as Ralph, easily switching gears between the story’s grown-up narrator and his 9-year-old counterpart. There’s a genuine feeling of wonder and excitement as Whittaker takes us back to that long-ago Christmas in 1940. But it’s in quiet moments of wistful reflection that he really works his magic.

Megan Murphy Chambers is outstanding as Ralphie’s no-nonsense mother, and she shares plenty of knowing smiles (and exasperated glances) with real-life husband Jack E. Chambers, who makes a fine Rep debut as “The Old Man.” Jack E. Chambers is perhaps less gruff than you might expect as Ralphie’s father, but there’s an unmistakable twinkle in his eye that is quite endearing. And he hits all the comedic high notes as Ralphie’s teacher Miss Shields.