Q&A: NU Alum and Theatre Director Scott Weinstein discusses latest musical, ‘A Christmas Story’


Photo courtesy of Joe Mazza/ Brave Lux

The show runs at Marriott Theatre through Jan. 1 and explores the materialism of Christmas in suburban America.

Jack Austin, Senior Staffer

Before embarking on a career as an award-winning director, Scott Weinstein (Communication ’10) immersed himself in Northwestern’s theatre scene. Weinstein said his experience working in set and sound design and directing several student productions prepared him for the world of professional theater. 

Weinstein’s latest production, “A Christmas Story, The Musical,” runs from Nov. 2 through Jan. 1 at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire — the longest-running musical theatre in the Chicago area. The play is adapted from the beloved 1983 film “A Christmas Story,” a comedy about a suburban family living in Indiana during the holiday season. The film largely follows Ralphie, a young boy with materialistic desires who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for a Christmas gift. The Daily spoke with Weinstein about the musical’s production and process.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

The Daily: What inspired you to take on “A Christmas Story, The Musical”? 

Weinstein: I think we’re all looking for a sense of community right now in a big way. “Christmas Story” is definitely a show and a story about a family and a community, and when and what it means to be together and go through a stressful time together. It felt like a really great story to be telling right now and at a time when we need some joy and some comedy and togetherness.

The Daily: How does “A Christmas Story” compare to other plays you have directed?

Weinstein: This is my first time working with this many kids. We have something like 16 kids in the cast, which is a lot. All of my work kind of has a theme of family running through it, and found family and what that means in all senses of the word, and this show definitely fits into that theme. 

The Daily: What role does music play in the show? 

Weinstein: Music is throughout the whole show. It’s almost entirely underscored. There’s amazing songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (of “La La Land” and “Dear Evan Hansen”). Music in the show is used to represent the characters, their inner fantasy life. Ralphie fantasizes that he’s a cowboy, and so it goes to this western theme, and also there’s an amazing jazz speakeasy tap dance number.

The Daily: What has been challenging and rewarding in adapting a popular film like this? 

Weinstein: There’s always a challenge in working on an adaptation because you want to honor the things that people love about the original piece, but it also needs to work in this new medium. It’s rewarding when iconic imagery like the bunny suit or the leg lamp get applause every night.

The Daily: Who can we expect to stand out in performances? 

Weinstein: It’s an amazing cast. Playing the Old Man and the mother are Lorenzo Rush and Sara Reinecke, and they’re just two all-star Chicago performers. They’re so, so funny together. We have two amazing Ralphies — they’re just both so natural and lovely to work with. Just watching these kids be kids and also have such retention for material and be working so hard has been amazing.

The Daily: What do you think audiences will take away from this show? 

Weinstein: Hopefully, they take away not just joy and comfort from the show but also a real sense of humor, and I think a healthy dose of holiday cynicism. Sometimes the holidays are just about wanting to get presents, and that is what Ralphie wants in the movie and the musical. He gets a little bit of the undercut to the warm and fuzzies of the holiday, but then you also get the warm and fuzzies as well.

The Daily: What are you most proud of as a director? 

Weinstein: What I’m most proud of as a director is the process that I create with actors and with the company of a show. I really love creating an environment that people can collaborate in and feel safe in and enjoy their work. I like to create an environment that other people can love as much as I do. That’s really important to me and something I’m very proud of.

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Twitter: @JackAustinNews

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