Dan Lauria returns to the role he originated on Broadway in the musical adaptation of the beloved holiday movie "A Christmas Story," as it returns to the New York stage.
The show, which is setting up shop at The Theater at MSG starting tonight and running through Dec. 29, features the "Wonder Years" star, now in the TBS comedy series "Sullivan and Son," in the role of Jean Shepherd, who narrates the production (and whose book the show is based on).
amNewYork spoke with Lauria, 66, about the show.
What brought you back to "A Christmas Story"?
I promised Peter Billingsley, who is the producer of the TV show I'm doing, "Sullivan and Son." He asked me, "Would you do it again for us?" and I said, "If you do New York, I will." ... The only downside about coming is [that] about five of the kids grew up on us.
As a veteran actor, do the kids come to you for any advice or help?
This is the first time, with "A Christmas Story," where kids came up and said, "My mother said you were on a TV show." All the sudden, I'm like this old guy. And these kids are so much more talented then I am. They sing, they dance. I can't sing a note. As a matter of fact, they make it clear to the public that "Don't worry, Dan won't sing."
You did a run in "Lombardi" on Broadway a couple of seasons ago. Will we see you on the Great White Way again soon?
I don't know. The last line of my bio is "Dan doesn't do plays by old dead white guys" and I'm always asked to do these revivals, and I don't want to. There're too many good young writers out there who need a shot. It's so hard to get a new play on Broadway. So I think you'll see me in New York a lot, but I think it'll be Off-Broadway.
Why do you have that policy?
Well, I don't like to be compared to another performer. I don't care how good you are, if you do "[A Streetcar Named Desire]," you're compared to [Marlon] Brando. ... You can have 20 Lombardis, but in some way, they're all going to be compared to me. So they might be better, but I will be the benchmark.
What does it mean for you to play the Garden?
It's a little intimidating -- 5,000 seats. I was an old jock, and I got this thing about, I can go up to other actors, like my buddy Ron Perlman, and say, "Hey, I played the Garden!"... I'm looking forward to it.