BWW Reviews: Be Red Nosed at First Stage's Enchanting RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL

Photo Credit: Paul Ruffolo

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer makes history again. First Stage celebrates the television special's 50th anniversary this holiday season because five decades ago Rudolph "with your nose so bright" saved Christmas in this magical tale where these Christmas Town misfits power Santa's sleigh during a blinding snowstorm. The animated special also rewrote television history by being one of the first seasonal shows broadcast only once a year combined with the consistently highest ratings. First Stage reprises that success by bringing the beloved handcrafted characters, costumes and scenery to life on stage in their original adaptation from the 2012 production: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical."

While Artistic Director Jeff Frank adapted and directed the 2012 production, the talented Matt Daniels directs in 2014. Several subtle changes in the production accent the animation while two young performer casts named Holly and Jolly add youthful energy. Snowkens, a stage technique based on Japanese theater and perfected to use with Theatre for Young Audiences by First Stage, assist Scenic and Stage Designer Brandon Kirkham's charming woodland critters to sing while Santa's famous reindeers to fly. On opening night, the Jolly cast performed featuring a convincing Luke Brotherhood in the role of Rudolph, while Abby Hanna played his friendly female match, Clarisse, who beautifully sings "Tomorrow is a day for dreams to come true."

Perhaps this timeless tale reveals faith and hope where dreams come true underlies a half century of holiday tradition. Dreams come true for the apparent misfits named Rudolph with a glowing ruby red nosed instead of black, or Hermey, a persistent Jake Koch, the elf who desires to be a dentist instead of paint toys. The story assures children of all ages that their unique talents will eventually allow their dreams to take flight. Just as Rudolph took flight through perseverance and the help of his friends, every year Rudolph and this musical story continually soar each time performed llive on stage.

A delightful adult cast---Robert Spencer reprising his Sam the Snowman, Lee Becker's outrageous Yukon Cornelius, Karen Estrada's affectionate Mrs. Claus, Todd Denning's warm Santa Claus, and Allison Mary Forbes dressed as Rudolph's reindeer mother---warms the production and the heart despite frigid temperatures outside the theater. The redesigned monster Bumble takes to the stage and reforms, to top the Christmas trees with a shining silver star.

This remembers the popular song "Silver and Gold' sung in the the musical rand elates, children can uncover the innate goodness of inner qualities instead of outer appearances By adapting this timeless classic to children's theater and retaining the retro ambiance, the production remains true to the creator's original vision. First Stage reinforces these priceless qualities for thousand of children because their adaptation now plays in Kansas City, Minneapolis and numerous children's theater companies across the country, another legacy in the making.

Be brave and be Red-Nosed this holiday season! Uncover any quirky outer appearances so those inner personal qualities shine through for everyone to see, in the clear light of day or through the blizzards of a life snowstorm. Celebrate with First Stage and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, in this enchanting holly jolly musical story where anyone's dreams really do come true.

First Stage presents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical in the Todd Wehr Theater at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts through December 28 with additional performances added. For further information or tickets, please call: 414.273.7206 or visit .

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From This Author Peggy Sue Dunigan

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