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RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER at the Fox theater review

– By Cate Marquis –

The charming kid-friendly holiday treat RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER returns to the Fox just in time for Christmas. This cute, enjoyable production is the perfect way for parents to introduce youngest kids to both the Fabulous Fox Theater and shows on stage. The live-action musical, based on the classic stop-action animated Christmas TV special, is on the Fox stage for multiple performances through Sunday, Dec. 23.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is a holiday treat both parents and wee folks can enjoy, with songs, humor, and an adventure story kids can embrace. The show uses a mix of costumed performers and puppets to recreate the classic cartoon. Even the show’s running time, a mere 120 minutes, is designed with little ones in mind. The short show even comes with an intermission for any youngsters becoming fidgety. The production is colorful, with themes kids can identify with and sprinkled with appealing big-eyed animal characters.

And, yes, reindeer do fly, in this winning production. The warm-hearted underdog adventure story about “misfit” characters feels surprisingly contemporary, with its message of inclusion, despite the fact that the TV show first aired in 1964. There are plenty of bouncy tunes with lots of sing-alongs that kids and parents can enjoy.

The performers are appealing in the creative costumes that transform them into live versions of the cartoon’s reindeer, snowman, elves and Santa. Trevin Goin was a clear audience favorite as the funny, singing Burl Ives-inspired snowman narrator. Natalie MacDonald is appealingly sweet and brave as Rudolph, the young reindeer with that unusual glowing red nose. Rudolph just wants to fit in but finds a way to do more than that with the help of other “misfit” friends – and Santa. Rudolph’s pals Hermey the Elf and Yukon Cornelius are played with fine comic style by Dallas Perry and Grant Hodges respectively.

The rest of the cast is good too, with reindeer parts played by Michael D’Ella as Rudolph’s dad Donner and Tatiana Monique Alverez as his mom, while Ellie Wyman plays cute girl fawn Clarice. Santa and Mrs. Santa, played by Erich Schroeder and Melinda Koen, are cute and funny. Jeremiah Ybarra plays the abominable snowman Bumble, in a giant puppet costume.

Those creative costumes really help the show’s magic. The reindeer performers walk on two feet but sport tawny costumes that have hoof-like mittens and the reindeer actors mimic deer-like poses and kicks. The narrator snowman costume seems to float across the stage, part costume and part puppet. Even Santa is not just an actor in a red suit, but is made up to look like the cartoon. Parents will appreciate the creativity while children will just embrace the illusion.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER is a sweet holiday treat for little kids and their parents alike.

© Cate Marquis