'Always dreamed of playing Boston': Mass. actor takes stage in 'A Christmas Story' musical

·6 min read

Actor, dancer, singer and Needham native Nick Davis credits his father with introducing him to the 1983 film “A Christmas Story.”

“I had no choice. My father sat us down and made us watch it with him every year during the annual Christmas Eve TV marathons. My brother and I would slip in and watch half of one screening, and then maybe one full airing. That’s when I became a fan of the movie,” said Davis in a telephone interview during a Manhattan rehearsal.

Based in New York, Davis gets his turn to make the introductions when he comes home to Boston to appear in the ensemble of the touring production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” playing Boston’s Boch Center Wang Theatre Dec. 10-19.

'Nutcracker' and more: South Shore festive season is merry and bright

Christopher Swan as The Old Man and the cast of "A Christmas Story, The Musical."
Christopher Swan as The Old Man and the cast of "A Christmas Story, The Musical."

“My dad will be seeing the stage adaptation of the movie for the first time – with me in it,” Davis said. “I hope he’s going to like it a lot.”

If history is any indication, Davis’ father and mother – Michael Davis and Mary-Leslie Davis, who now live in Natick – will both be pleased by his performance.

“My parents haven’t missed a single show that I have ever been in,” Davis said. “They are always completely supportive, even when it comes to my biggest dreams.”

'Musical bliss': Norwell's Susan Tedeschi performs for sold-out hometown crowd in Boston

This time, they will be seeing him in a Tony Award-nominated musical comedy that premiered on Broadway in 2012, and features a book by Joseph Robinette and a score by the songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul – winners of the 2017 Tony for best original score for “Dear Evan Hansen,” and that same year’s Academy Award for best original song for their lyrics for “City of Stars” from “La La Land.”

“The writers, who are some of the best in the business, really nailed it with this show. The music adds so much, and there is great spectacle to be enjoyed in the staging,” said Davis.

Needham native Nick Davis can be seen in the touring production of "A Christmas Story, The Musical," coming to the Boch Center Wang Theatre Dec. 10-19.
Needham native Nick Davis can be seen in the touring production of "A Christmas Story, The Musical," coming to the Boch Center Wang Theatre Dec. 10-19.

Like the movie, the stage production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical” – based on humorist Jean Shepherd’s 1966 book of short stories, “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” – has earned a legion of loyal fans with its nostalgic look at a pre-World War II Midwestern family preparing for Christmas.

The story centers on 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, who wants nothing more than to find an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle waiting for him under the Christmas tree.

The determined tyke will do whatever it takes to get the gift he wants most, including sporting some less-than-stylish pink bunny pajamas, pondering his father’s prized leg lamp, dealing with a maniacal department store Santa, and resisting a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole.

Cue the Sugar Plum Fairy: Hundreds of South Shore dancers to perform in 'The Nutcracker'

Davis said he can relate to Ralphie’s desire for a specific Christmas gift.

“I was a very theatrical kid. I loved costumes and I was obsessed with ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ I collected every costume connected with every character, most of which I got as Christmas gifts.

Chris Carsten and Colton Maurer in a scene from "A Christmas Story."
Chris Carsten and Colton Maurer in a scene from "A Christmas Story."

“My true obsession was definitely the Tin Man. I was the Tin Man for Halloween for many years,” he explains. “My parents made sure I had every costume, though, and one year I went trick-or-treating as Dorothy.”

At an early age, Davis – the youngest of four siblings, a brother and sister who both live in Seattle and another brother who lives in South Boston – learned that costumes weren’t only for Halloween.

“I got a super-early start. I was doing children’s shows in kindergarten and by fourth or fifth grade, I was working pretty regularly at theaters in and around Boston,” said Davis, a 2016 graduate of Needham High School.

Pointe man: Quincy's John Lam has 'danced everything' in Boston Ballet's 'Nutcracker'

He has appeared in “Carousel” and “Fiddler on the Roof” at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” at Stoneham’s Greater Boston Stage Company, “The Musical of Musicals” for Cambridge’s Moonbox Productions, and “Hairspray” at Boston’s Wheelock Family Theatre, among other shows.

“While I was doing shows in the Boston area, I got an agent and a manager in New York and started trying out for roles there too. My mother would drive me to all my auditions.”

The young actor landed roles in feature films, including “The Fighter,” “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” and national television commercials for the Hasbro board game Jenga, Liberty Mutual Insurance and CVS Pharmacy.

The commercials helped pay for both dance and voice lessons, said Davis, who studied at the former Jeanette Neill Dance Studio in Boston, and took private vocal instruction from Sudbury’s Marsha Vleck.

Davis graduated from the musical theater program at Penn State in 2020.

The cast of "A Christmas Story, The Musical."
The cast of "A Christmas Story, The Musical."

“I planned to move to New York City right after college, but the pandemic delayed that until September of this year. I got lucky not long after I arrived, though, when I was cast in this tour.

“I didn’t truly realize just how lucky I was until the moment I walked into the Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studio in Manhattan, where so many great performers have rehearsed amazing shows,” said Davis. “I thought, ‘I can’t believe this is really happening.’ ”

Landing a role in his first tour was a big deal for Davis, but he said he knows the best part is about to come. He will get to be with his parents, family and friends during the holiday season and make return appearances at some of his favorite places.

“It is 100 percent likely that I will be stopping at Café Fresh Bagel in Needham. New York is supposed to have the best bagels in the world, of course, but for me, Café Fresh has the best bagels and coffee anywhere,” he said.

At AMC Braintree: Lady Gaga is dressed to kill in juicy 'House of Gucci,' but Jared Leto steals the show

And while familiar local flavors should put Davis at ease, the idea of making his debut on a downtown Theater District stage is still daunting.

“I’ve always dreamed of playing Boston,” he said. “My mom tells everyone that I’ve never been nervous. I do get excited, though, and as I see it, fear is just excitement without breathing.”

With his parents, other family members and a legion of friends expected to turn out to see him, Davis said he knows he will be in good company.

“In the two weeks that we’re at the Wang, just about every single person I know in the Boston area will be coming to the show,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing them all.”

'A Christmas Story: The Musical'

When: Dec. 10-19

Where: Boch Center Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston

Tickets: $25 and up

Info: 800-982-2787; bochcenter.org

This article originally appeared on MetroWest Daily News: Massachusetts actors stars touring production Christmas Story musical

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting