On Tuesday night, downtown was filled with gleeful, excited children. Their parents quickly grabbed their hands to stop them from running into the street. Where were they running? Well, only to the most famous reindeer of all. Rudolph.
Yes, folks, it's time to get your Christmas spirit on and take the kids, or yourself, to the Majestic Theater for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Musical. The beloved TV classic is brought to live-action life thanks to Wishing Star Productions. Presented by the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the production celebrates Rudolph's 50 years on television, and is slowly creating a new holiday tradition in Dallas. The entire gang is ready to deck the halls with you: Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snowman, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph.
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From the moment you enter the historic Majestic Theatre, vintage Christmas music surrounds you. When the curtain rises, you're greeted by an impressive, glittery, three-dimensional recreation of the blue and white North Pole world of the 1964 Bass and Rankin animated television special, complete with snow-trimmed, rubber-looking evergreens, their branches dripping with old-timey ornaments. Then out come the puppets. Think Julie Taymor mixed with Rankin and Bass' claymation and you have this show. Smaller characters -- like the rabbits, owls and the misfit toys -- are operated by kabuki-style puppeteers, dressed in white from head to toe to blend in with the environment. Rudolph and his reindeer friends look just like their claymation, woodland counterparts. It's charming and oddly satisfying to watch human performers move like cartoon characters. You forget you're watching people and get lost in the winter wonderland.
The musical has as much charm as the film. The script follows the dialogue of the television special and musical numbers virtually verbatim. Adapted by director Joe Sturgeon, the script gives you many opportunities to sing-along with your favorite song, cheer for Rudolph and shriek when Bumble the Abominable Snowman -- an enormous 11-foot -- first appears. Sam the Snowman (Colin Phillips) performs his narrative duties splendidly, and the crew of squeaky, comedic elves at Santa's workshop do wonderfully as well.
But the standout performances come from Rudolph (played on Tuesday by Leo Thomasian), Hermy (Kyle Montgomery) and Yukon (Jeremiah Johnson). Full of energy, quick wit and comedic timing, the trio had great chemistry, and brought the story and characters to life. By the end of the show, the entire cast will have you singing along with "Holly, Jolly Christmas" (and for the rest of the evening, and the next day, and the next...). That's the joy of this show. It's happy, fun and playful, yet it carries an important message of acceptance and diversity -- a message that should be seen and heard by young and old alike. The show runs 90 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission to grab a cup of hot chocolate and a few gingerbread cookies. You can even snag a Rudolph T-shirt to wear to all of your holiday parties and some stamps for your holiday cards. If you're luck, maybe you'll even get a selfie with the reindeer himself.
Through December 21 at the Majestic Theatre. Showtimes vary. 1925 Elm St. www.ticketdfw.com.