A Christmas Story Live, Fox’s latest live musical event, has found its Ralphie, the little boy who dreams of finding a Red Ryder BB gun under the tree.
Eleven-year-old newcomer Andy Walken has won the role after producers considered more than 350 applicants for the part originated by Peter Billingsley in the 1983 holiday classic.
Walken was already a fan of the film when he went in for his audition. “If I got this role, it would be the greatest, most awesome Christmas present I’ve ever gotten in my life,” he said during the process. Producers surprised Walken with the news via a gift-wrapped phone call at the site of his “final audition.” The news brought tears of joy to his eyes.
He joins previously announced cast members Maya Rudolph as Ralphie’s mother and Matthew Broderick as the narrator.
The musical will hew closely to the 1983 movie, which tells the story of a young boy who faces school bullies and paranoid parents in the lead-up to Christmas and his wish for the air rifle. Scott Ellis (Broadway’s 2016 She Loves Me revival) will helm the stage direction, while Alex Rudzinski (Grease: Live) will serve as the live television director and an executive producer. Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land) will compose several new songs for the television event, having already written songs for the stage version of the musical.
A Christmas Story Live will air live on Fox on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. ET, and tape-delayed at 7 p.m. PT.