'Rudolph' recreates classic, brings fun updates
Posted December 2, 2015
Updated December 4, 2015
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical" is flying back through Raleigh this holiday season. The family-friendly show returned Thanksgiving weekend and continues through Dec. 30 at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts.
The show, which runs a little over an hour with a 15-minute intermission in the middle, is incredibly faithful to the TV Christmas special, which premiered 51 years ago. Anybody who has seen the TV show will recognized the story, songs, dialogue and costumes.
The actors also embrace the look and feel of the classic show. Sam the Snowman's slightly jerky movements follow the stop motion movement of the character, played ably again by T. Philip Caudle (who seems to channel Burl Ives in his performance). Like in the TV program, Wayne Owsley (who also returns) brings a slightly nasal sound to the voice of Rudolph, along with an endearing naivety. And Adam Poole (who also returns) brings a nerdy sensibility to Hermey, the elf who wants to be a dentist.
Back again are the puppets too - the birds, rabbits and raccoons. And the giant Abominable Snow Monster, who stands 12 feet tall and weighs 80 pounds. It takes three people - a puppeteer inside the suit and two more to move his hands - to operate it.
Now in its second year in Raleigh, this year's production offers some updates to last year's show. My 10-year-old, especially, was excited to see the changes and really enjoyed seeing the show this year. (I generally recommend it for toddlers to younger grade schoolers and their families. It's worth noting that a two-year-old who attended over the weekend for her first live show was completely mesmerized by the entire thing, plus or minus a few minutes when she wanted more cookie).
The biggest change: Rudolph actually flies with the help of wires, which pull him high into the air on stage. There also are new puppets - seals and polar bears. The addition of Rudolph actually flying and the new puppets meant the entire production was reblocked, making everything a bit different.
Near the end, there's a new song, "Merry, Merry Christmas to You." And, finally, at the very end, there's a fun, seasonally appropriate surprise: It snows on both the stage and in the audience!
If you go, get there early for free face painting for ticketholders, which will be available during many of the shows. There's also a gift area with stuffed Rudolphs, snow monsters and more and a concessions stand with drinks and snacks that you can take into the theater as you watch the show.
Tickets start at $23 (plus taxes and fees). It runs through Dec. 30. All children older than 12 months need a ticket.
Update! Here's the schedule for the face painter. She will be at both shows Dec. 5, Dec. 6, Dec. 19, Dec. 20, Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.