The almost preternaturally wholesome A Christmas Story Live! was chosen as FOX's annual live musical telecast this year, and viewers noticed that the set full of Christmas cheer looked pretty familiar. Twitter thinks A Christmas Story Live! looks like the Gilmore Girls set, and there's a reason for that: they were actually both filmed on the same Warner Bros. lot.
The midwestern backdrop plays a crucial part in the classic 1983 film based on the semi-autobiographical short stories of Jean Shepherd. The Parkers live in Northwest Indiana, where Ralphie's dad is a long-suffering Bears fan, and the setting gets a special shoutout in the musical through a song called "Somewhere Hovering Over Indiana." The house in Cleveland which served as the Parker home in the film's establishing shots has actually been preserved as a museum known as A Christmas Story House in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood.
Meanwhile, A Christmas Story Live! was shot in Burbank, California, which probably made singing and dancing in a snowy wintry wonderland much easier. The lot where the musical shot also served as the set for Gilmore Girls' iconic New England town of Stars Hollow, which eagle-eyed fans noticed right away. It's also where NBC shot their 2015 live musical telecast of The Music Man. Given Gilmore Girls' memorable holiday episodes, the snowy town square with a large Christmas tree right in the middle, through which the cast of A Christmas Story Live! sings and dances, was instantly recognizable to fans of Amy Sherman-Palladino's hit WB series.
A Christmas Story Live! producer Marc Platt and writers Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins are the same team from FOX's Grease Live!, last year's musical telecast which famously shut Beyoncé's Lemonade out of an Emmy. This year's televised holiday special was adapted from a stage version called A Christmas Story: The Musical, which was composed by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. It lived in relative obscurity after a short-lived run on Broadway in 2013, until the composing duo earned widespread acclaim for their work on a pair of projects last year.
They're the team behind Tony Award-winning hit musical Dear Evan Hansen as well as 2017's Oscar-nominated movie La La Land. Given Pasek and Paul's recent hits, FOX decided to revive their holiday musical with an update. The composers wrote several new songs for the televised broadcast, which stars Matthew Broderick as Jean Shepherd's Adult Ralphie character, who narrates the film. Said Tolins in an interview with Entertainment Weekly of Broderick's updated role:
We wanted to add the feeling that sometimes he’s even discovering things along the way that he may not have realized at the time, so by the end of it, you have the feeling of what we call the Our Town effect, where someone is realizing how beautiful and how fleeting those moments of their childhood were.
Fellow Broadway alum Jane Krakowski plays Ralphie's teacher Miss Shields, and a handful of musically talented SNL alums bring their live TV chops to the telecast, including Maya Rudolph as Mother Parker, Ana Gasteyer as Schwartz's mom, and Fred Armisen as a department store elf. David Alan Grier and Ken Jeong also offer a couple of funny cameos as a department store Santa and a Christmas tree salesman, respectively. Chris Diamantopoulos plays Ralphie's dad, Old Man Parker, and 11-year-old newcomer Andy Walken of Seattle, WA plays young Ralphie. He landed the role after FOX performed a nationwide digital casting search to fill the shoes of Peter Billingsley, the original Ralphie Parker.
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