Fort Worth — “Christmas spirit” is a term that gets overused around the holiday season. But, in many cases it’s nothing more than a surface designation. If something is decorated appropriately, it is said to have that special spirit. It’s about more than that, though, and no story more embodies that than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the live action musical of the old Rankin/Bass stop-motion holiday special, presented by Wishing Star Productions. After a lengthy run in Dallas last year, it played for a weekend at Bass Performance Hall before moving to Dallas’ Majestic Theatre, where it runs Dec. 16-21.
Congratulations are in order as Santa’s reindeer Donner (Preston Lee Isham) and his wife (Monique Abry) have had a child. There’s a problem, though, as their new son Rudolph (Leo Thomasian) has a nose that glows bright red. Those familiar with the famous song know that Rudolph has a lot of trouble fitting in. But, he’s not the only one. Hermann (Kyle Montgomery) is an elf who dreams of leaving the toy assembly line in favor of being a dentist. For this he is endlessly mocked by his fellow elves.
Hermey and Rudolph, in self-imposed exile, become friends. Along the way they meet an odd prospector named Yukon Cornelius (Jeremiah Johnson), and together they stumble upon the Island of Misfit Toys. Eventually, Rudolph leaves alone and finds his way back to the North Pole just in time to fulfill his destiny of guiding Santa’s sleigh through a massive storm. Of course, Hermey, Cornelius, and the misfit toys all find acceptance and success in their endeavors in a good lesson about how it’s not bad to be different.
That’s the Christmas Spirit. The notion that everyone is deserving of love and acceptance even if they march to the beat of their own drum, and especially when it comes to something they can’t help about themselves. Christmas is a time of fellowship, and this story is the best confirmation of that. Director Joe Sturgeon infuses the entire production with that Christmas spirit and it saturates the performance hall.
This adaptation, written by Robert Penola, with music and lyrics by Johnny Marks and orchestration and arrangements by Timothy Splain, is pitch-perfect in every way.
It’s also a whole bunch of fun. The puppet work is phenomenal, especially when it comes to animating the gigantic abominable snowman, Bumble. The song list is filled with old favorites from the television show and Christmas standards. And, the cast sells every bit of it with their enthusiasm and commitment.
This is the perfect holiday show, and definitely not to be missed. The entire family will love the story of this plucky underdog and his unique friends.