DALLAS “Bumbles bounce” is one of the famous lines from the 1964 stop-motion classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and in a locally produced musical adaptation of that program, the scary snow creature isn’t the only thing that does. The whole production bounces with joy and energy.
The show, put together by the newly formed Wishing Star Productions and presented at the Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas through Dec. 29, was born from a 2010 production at Casa Mañana Children’s Theatre. Wishing Star has splintered off with the mission to grow this stage musical into an annual holiday tradition, and put some serious talent and money where its mouth is.
In a spectacle that has a budget hovering over the $1 million mark, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Musical, amazingly captures the look and feel of the original. This script is adapted by Robert Penola and directed by Joe Sturgeon, the former director of Casa’s children’s theater, and keeps it very close to the TV show, with a few songs and embellishments added in.
Rudolph (Jordan Brodess) is born with a glowing red nose, and that of course causes the other deer not to take him seriously. So he runs away with fellow outcast, Hermey the elf, who wants to be a dentist (Christopher J. Deaton). Along with the prospector Yukon Cornelius (Greg Dulcie), they encounter adventures on the Island of Misfit Toys and in fighting the monster called Bumble.
All of the actors are terrific, but what makes this show is the design. Costumes and puppets (by Kathy Kreuter) look just like the characters in the movie, and in some cases, move like them. Sam the Snowman (Jason Kane) narrates and glides along the floor (we won’t spoil the trick for you). All of the deer are in costumes with masks above their head that look just like their characters in the film.
The toys and various woodland creatures (owls, raccoon, rabbit, birds, etc.) are rod puppets manipulated by a group of puppeteers clad in all white to match the snowy scenic design. The elves, Santa (Doug LoPachin) and Mrs. Claus (Jenny Tucker) are wonderfully in tune with their respective characters from TV. Even trees, ice boulders and other inanimate objects keep the spirit of the original alive.
Most amazingly, Bumble is a giant puppet, manipulated by three puppeteers — one on the body, and one each moving its arms.
It all makes for a fantastic-looking show that will be loved by children (kids in the audience shouted out with glee throughout the show) and their parents and grandparents, and even childless adults, who have fond memories of watching the TV special every year.
It’s the best holiday entertainment value on any local stage this year.