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BWW Reviews: The Holiday Season Begins With, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL At The Coterie Theatre

The holiday season soars into Kansas City on the nose of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. The classic holiday treat opened on Friday November 7 at the Coterie Theatre in Crown Center. Jeff Church directs the musical based on the stop-motion animated television special, which starred the voice of Burl Ives. Timothy Splain provides arrangements and orchestrations with script adaptation by Robert Penola.

Celebrating Rudolph's 50 years on television the characters come to life on the Coterie stage. Georgianna Londré Buchanan designed the wonderful costuming from Santa Claus to the reindeers, to Rudolph with his nose so bright. The elaborate use of puppetry brings to life the animated animals and misfit toys that audiences around the world have come to know and love.

Rudolph and Hermey the Elf, knowing they are misfits, leave Santa's holiday compound in search for a place where they will be accepted as they are. On the journey, they meet Yukon Cornelius, a prospector looking for gold. Chased by the Abominable Snowman they come upon the isle of misfit toys, only to find that even in a land of misfits they do not fit in. It is on a snowy night, and in the glow of Rudolph's red nose, that the underlying meaning comes to light, what makes you different also makes you special.

Ron Lackey is marvelous as Sam the Snowman, the large frozen narrator who takes the audience from the birth of Rudolph to the night Santa asks him, "Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" Lackey has a marvelous voice and sets the tone of the play with his rendition of Holly Jolly Christmas. The performance is equal to that of the late Ives performance in the television special.

Emily Nan Phillips takes on duo roles as Mrs. Claus and Mrs. Donner; she has a marvelous voice and smoothly moves from one character to the other. Jake Walker gives a superbly humorous performance as the Boss Elf.

Tony Pulford gives an energetic performance as the young Rudolph. His squeaky speaking voice and wonderful vocals are perfect for the youthful reindeer. Christopher Carlson gives a magnificent performance as Hermey the Elf, who does not want to be an elf anymore he wants to be a dentist. The costuming, his actions and voice remind us (those of us old enough to remember) of the animated character. Sadly it a college student in the audience was overheard admitting she had never seen the animated special.

Other cast members include Zachrey York as Santa, Justin Barron as Fireball, Logan Black as Coach Comet and Yukon Cornelius, Jake Golliher as Donner, and Lexi Morris as Clarice. Several of the deer and elves are played by school age actors and are split on performances. Ally Banks, Maddie Bruegger, Cam Burns, Zoe London, Drake Taylor, and Hannah Thompson play the elves. Portraying the reindeer are Evan Phillips, Loren Wendelburg, and Jordan DeLeon. The Snowden Puppeteers include Ty Carter, Nehemiah Deason, Maddie Bruegger, Jake Walker, Justin Barron, Jake Golliher, Evan Phillips, Loren Wendelburg, Jordan Deleon, Drake Taylor, and Cam Burns.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical runs through the holiday season, closing on January 4, 2015. The matinee performance on Saturday November 22 at 2 p.m. is an interpreted performance in American Sign Language. Purchase tickets by calling 816-474-6552 or at The Coterie Theatre website. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre.

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From This Author Steve Wilson