Pictured (l-r): Kimberly Girkin, Catie Wolff, Ashley Elliot-Rowe, David LeVota, and Zach Faust. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder
By Abigail Trabue
You know Dasher, and Dancer and Prancer, and Vixen … but did you know there’s a stage version of the 1964 stop-motion classic RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER? Now is the perfect time to head on down to The Coterie Theater at Crown Center for a faithful adaptation, complete with all the songs you love, the wonderful misfit toys (brought lovingly to life in puppet form by designer Caitlin Brisendine), and, of course, that glowing icon of a nose.
Featuring a dedicated cast, Coterie’s RUDOLPH is big on Christmas cheer and at 60 minutes is just long enough to keep little ones engaged, while offering enough to also satisfy bigger kids too. When put up against the film, there is very little in the way of story adaptation and the production itself is almost visually identical, making RUDOLPH the perfect holiday outing for families with children whose sensory needs require predictability and plenty of story prep prior to attending live theater.
But having said that, Director William J. Christie does find ways to keep this from feeling like an imitation, and while the energy level felt a little low, making the vocal quality slightly lacking, this large and versatile cast still manages to make RUDOLPH soar high, both figuratively and literally thanks to some creative blocking by Christie and choreographer Marc Wayne. As Sam the Snowman, Ron Lackey does a lovely job of creating his own version of this snow-filled narrator, and his lush baritone glides through each song effortlessly, giving us just a touch of that Burl Ives sound we all know and love.
RUDOLPH is a story not without its flaws, but at the heart of it all is the reminder that being different, having our own special something is nothing to be ashamed of and Coterie’s version does a lovely job of paying tribute to those differences and reminding people of all ages just how vital acceptance is. It’s a holly jolly of a production wrapped in silver and gold.
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER runs through December 30th. For more information visit thecoterie.org.