BWW Review: Sweet Loving RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER THE MUSICAL Stops at Dolby
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was immortalized in the 60s TV classic of the same name and is now full-blown in an onstage touring musical called Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical. It follows the film almost to the letter with a bevy of animal characters, elves and of course, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. It was Mrs. Donner who gave birth to Rudolph, and to protect him from the world, his family covered up his nose... but to no avail. Now with its two-day stop at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Rudolph... is a delight for children with its sugar-coated, infectiously cute little story.
Parents bring their kids and must sit through the show with them, so it seems only fair that the adults be entertained as well. British Panto includes adult jokes as do the Troubadour Theatre Company. Not this production! It is all straight forward. I don't mean for this to sound like a bad thing, for as is there is plenty to enjoy. But, I wanted more. There were no cheers or excess applause from the audience, and that tells all. Kids were not overjoyed either. If they liked it a lot, they didn't show it. The producers may want to think a bit and spice up the proceedings - perhaps with interaction - for next year's tour.
The story is narrated by jolly Sam the Snowman (Ryan Coon). For those unfamiliar with it, when Rudolph (Natalie MacDonald) is born to Donner (Edred Utomi) and Mrs. Donner (Jamie Mills), they cover his nose to protect him from ridicule and so that he may participate in the Reindeer Games created for Santa's mission on Christmas Eve. But, alas, the nose falls off revealing the red nose underneath, and Rudolph is banned... as an outcast. He hooks up with elf Hermey (Nick Ley), who really wants to be a dentist and not a toy maker, and then Yukon Cornelius (Ben Burch), who is searching the North Pole for silver and gold. The three are threatened by Bumble, the Abominable Monster (Nick Tubbs) who preys on reindeer. Along the way, Rudolph meets doe Clarice (Audrey Curd) who thinks he's cute and offers him hope "There's Always Tomorrow". In the end, Bumble is tamed and the whole reindeer family return safely to Christmastown. But, there's sad news! Santa (Jason Michael Hammond) and Mrs. Claus (Candice Rochelle Berge) must call off Christmas due to the fog. Well, we all know what happens next. "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight...?"
The best segment of the piece comes when Rudolph and Hermey discover the Island of Misfit Toys. Charlie.in.the.Box, not Jack.in.the.Box, and other deformed toys want to have homes and be loved too, so Rudolph and Santa go back there Christmas Eve to pick them up and distribute them to lucky children.
Solimando directs and choreographs predictably yet in a fun, smooth flowing manner and the happy proceedings come off sweet and charming. MacDonald as Rudolph steals the hour with her downtrodden boyish charm as does Burch with his overblown portrait of the loud and noisy prospector Cornelius. Coon as Sam, who sounds just like Burl Ives, relays the anecdote with panache. The entire execute some fine singing and dancing. Infante Media do exceedingly well with their projection design and Alex in Wonderland have outdone themselves with the pretty costuming and adorable puppets.
By the time you read this, the show will have closed and Christmas over for another year, but watch out for the production next season, as it's bound to return. For the kid in you, it couldn't be better, but I hope more sight gags, wildly funny jokes and maybe audience participation will be added to bring everyone even more pleasure.
(photo credit; Character Arts)