The best thing about Jean Shepard’s “A Christmas Story” was always Jean Shepard. His enthusiasm and joyful nostalgia made his boyhood Northern Indiana home a winter wonderland instead of, well, Northern Indiana. Theater Wit’s stage production of this 1983 cinematic classic fails to capture the gee-whiz, glorious fun of the original tale of a boy’s pursuit of his Holy Grail of Christmas toys, the Red Ryder BB gun. Doug MacKechnie’s competent performance as the narrator needs less wry detachment and more of Shepard’s upbeat energy. All of the standard vignettes are lovingly presented (The Scott Farkas Affair, The Destruction of the Major Award), and the cast of child actors is strong. Matthew Levy and Charlie Bazzell as Ralphie and Randy hit all the comedic notes. But the direction is missing the necessary snap; the production still needs to find the love and joy that drives the story. (Lisa Buscani)
At the Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 West Belmont, (773)327-5252. This production is now closed.