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BWW Review: Rudolph Takes Flight at Dallas Summer Musicals

You know Dasher and Dancer . . . and, unless you've been living without television since the TV special first aired in 1964, you know the most famous reindeer of all: RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER. And now, he's here in Dallas, starring in a stage musical! This marks the third year of the national tour and it is quickly becoming a holiday tradition.

Based on the animated television special, the cast and crew of RUDOLPH use their stage magic to bring the childhood favorite to life. The tale is the same one we all know, shiny nose and reindeer games included. The songs are the classic Johnny Marks music you remember from the TV show: "Holly, Jolly Christmas," "Jingle, Jingle, Jingle," and "Silver and Gold." But, when put on stage, the story of not fitting in, whether you're a reindeer trying to make Santa's team or an elf who just wants to be a dentist, seems even more touching and feels very universal.

As the title character, Sarah Errington has exactly the talent and the heart required to create the character of the misfit reindeer turned hero. Hermey, the non-conformist elf who doesn't like making toys, is played by a charming and quirky Wesley Edwards. Together, they lead an ensemble cast of performers who do it all, from dancing to singing to puppetry. Also, I have to give a special shoutout to Anthony Malone whose "Charlie in the Box" performance was one of the best and funniest of the evening. The only character who didn't really meet the standards set by the other actors was the narrator, Sam the Snowman (played by Steve Watkins). Although his singing voice was perfect, his narration moments felt wooden and monotone.

From a technical standpoint, the show is fantastic, as well. The set is appropriately cartoonish and fanciful. The projections created a fitting ambiance. But, the technical aspect that must be mentioned is the outstanding puppets. From the birds and raccoons who inhabit the snowy scenes, to the larger puppets of King Moonracer (a massive lion with wings) and Bumble (the towering Abominable Snowmonster), each one has such realistic movement and classic look that suspension of disbelief is not even a question. The one disappointment was that the show uses prerecorded tracks instead of an orchestra, but the size of the production and the quality of the tracks makes it forgivable.

The tour, which will soon be headed to New York's Madison Square Garden, has landed here at Dallas Summer Musicals for a short one-weekend run from November 25-27. For kids of any age looking to get into the Christmas spirit, RUDOLPH at Dallas Summer Musicals is Santa's perfect gift.

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From This Author Jared West