TCT’s “Rudolph” Glows

Take The Road to Being Finally Accepted (whether as a dentist, a reindeer or a toy)

Review by Sherri Ogden Wellington

Do you want to spend special time with your children and wish to relive the joy you felt watching the original annual TV airing of Rudolph?  Then get your tickets immediately to The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Jr. now playing at the Taft.  It will make you happy! If it doesn’t then please visit Grinch at Mount Crumpet. You can commiserate with him because if this play doesn’t get you into the Christmas mood, I don’t know what will.

Like any good production at the Taft, there is entertainment galore even before the play begins.  Goodies from the BonBonerie are for sale.  My grandson has to take his “sweet” time finding the right Christmas themed cookie to choose from (the elegantly designed Christmas Tree with tea cookies wins out).  Refreshments for both children and adults abound.  There is a quiz on the original show. (Did you know that it was filmed in Japan?!) Pictures of one’s children and/or grandchildren in front of the beautiful scenery is a must.  It is delightful watching people, children and families all in their finest enjoying the festivities.  

The play follows the animated 1964 TV special (which was adapted by a story written by Robert L. May and music by Johnny Marks) with the same characters and musical numbers. You have all the same cast:  Rudolph, Clarise, Yukon Cornelius, Hermy,  Abominable Snow Monster,  Donner and Mrs. Donner (what!  Oh yeah, this was written in the early 1960’s.  One has to remember that with Mrs. Claus only worrying about fattening Santa up, Rudolph’s mom being a “Mrs.”  Donner and Santa not accepting differences within others like Rudolph’s nose and toys that are different than what is considered ideal.  Santa is definitely not yet “woke”!)

Cast of "Rudolph.
Cast of “Rudolph. Photo credit: Mikki Schaffner Photography

Kudos to script adaptation by Robert Penola who makes this play flow beautifully.  The Orchestrations by William C. White  is no less amazing than the original show.  The Music Director, Mark Femia, makes the magic happen. The scenery (Nate Bertone both designed the scenery and directed the show), is big, bright, fun, and captures the mood of each scene.  The lighting (by Matthew Benjamin), is interesting from where I sat (in Orchestra 3, right behind the tech people).  The lighting focuses on the actors and yet allows the interpreters to be always seen as well as those physically seating around me.  It is pretty amazing. 

My 6-year-old grandson and I agree that Rudolph is AWESOME!  The choreography (by Diane Lala) of the reindeer is exceptional.  Rudolph flying, the reindeer prancing oh so elegantly and who could ever fault Donner’s ability to lift off Santa’s sleigh?  You go reindeer!  And the puppets!  What a fun addition to the play.  When we go to the Land of Misfit toys (you remember, Yukon Cornelius, Hermy and Rudolf are on an iceberg to get away from Abominable and they land on the island) the toys are puppets handled by puppeteers!  The hand puppets add a new dimension to the show which delights.

Kim Kern, Managing Director and CEO and Roderick Justice, Producing Artistic Director, have done it again.  An amazingly fun and delightful play that transports the audience to another world for an hour.  The children and adult actors alike make it a thoroughly entertaining time and a lovely way to ring in the holidays.

Click HERE for your tickets to Rudolph. Catch any of the remaining shows: December 10 (2:00 & 5:00 pm), December 11 (2:00 p.m.), December 16 (7:00 p.m.),  December 17 (11:00 am & 2:00 pm), or December 18 (2:00 pm).

Cast of "Rudolph."
Cast of “Rudolph.” Photo credit: Mikki Schaffner Photography

Sherri Ogden Wellington has a BS and M.Ed. and had a career in education. She fell in love with the theater when given a flower by an actor during the New York performance of Hair.