“The most famous reindeer of all” is heading toward Norfolk for four performances of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.” at Chrysler Hall, Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1. This is a perfect way to get in the Christmas sprit and jump-start your holly jolly.
Rudolph, also known as Santa’s 9th reindeer, was created in 1939 by Robert L. May as a coloring book for Montgomery Ward department stores. May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, adapted the story into a song. Gene Autry, a famous cowboy singer, recorded it. Autry’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” sold 2.5 million copies and hit #1 on the charts the week of Christmas, 1949. The Christmas song about the plucky reindeer with the red nose went on to sell 25 million copies and became a Christmas classic.
In 1964, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” became a stop action TV special. More songs and characters were added. Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster all help Rudolph save Christmas. Sam the Snowman, voiced by Burl Ives, narrates the story and sings the iconic song. The TV show still shows up every Christmas. It is the longest continuously running Christmas TV special.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” is a faithful adaptation of the Christmas special that we all grew up watching. There is a 12-foot Abominable Snow Monster. Sam the Snowman is still the narrator. One little twist, Rudolph is played by a female. In the tradition of young boys, or young boy reindeer in this case, being played by a girl, Rudolph is played by Natalie Holt MacDonald. She told me that females often have the “right voice type” to play a boy. Remember Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan?
Holt MacDonald says there will be a few more surprises for those who have seen the TV special every year. The musical has added some scenes that were cut from the TV special. The cast will perform some great songs, like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, that were only heard as background music in the TV special.
Holt MacDonald says, “There are some magical special effects. It will be snowing on stage, and the Island of Misfit Toys is full of puppets. We have a whole crew of talented puppeteers who help make the story come alive.”
Last, but not least, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a story about being different. “I love that aspect of the show,” say Holt MacDonald. “No matter how different you are, you have something important to contribute.” We all remember, “all of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.” Rudolph and his weird red nose help Santa save Christmas on that “foggy Christmas Eve.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/detail/rudolph
There will be two matinee performances on Saturday, December 1, one at 11:00 am and one at 3:00 pm for the little ones who may not stay away for the 7:30 pm performances.