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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The most famous reindeer of all

The Rose Theater performs “Rudolph” throughout the month of December
Proportioned by puppeteers Ren Walther, Elizabeth Peller, and Breanna Mack, the huge Abominable Snow Monster figure takes to the stage with its bone-chilling performance.

Photo courtesy of Rose Theater Omaha on Facebook
Proportioned by puppeteers Ren Walther, Elizabeth Peller, and Breanna Mack, the huge Abominable Snow Monster figure takes to the stage with it’s bone-chilling performance. Photo courtesy of Rose Theater Omaha on Facebook

As the winter holiday season quickly sets in, people everywhere are breaking out the caroling. Performers at the Rose Children’s Theater on Farnam St. are celebrating with their production of the Christmas-time classic; “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Based on the successful stop-motion movie of the same name, Rudolph is a beautiful show for the whole family.

Showcasing previews of the senior Rose Brigade’s “Guys and Dolls” and the Junior Rose Brigade’s “James and The Giant Peach,” the pre-show performances set the lively tone of the show.

The show is set behind cozy framed proscenium decked with festive lights. The set itself is painted blue and white to resemble the flurry of snow, with a covered orchestra pit to allow for more room for the actors. There are a handful of wheeled Christmas trees as well as a drop-down rig for various set pieces.

The production itself opens with our narrator, a talking snowman named Sam (Renzellous Brown). Brown does a wonderful job of portraying the funny and charming character, as well as audience interaction throughout the show. It isn’t long before we are introduced to Santa (Patrick Wolfe) and Mrs Claus (Faushia Weeden), the recognizable pair creating a comfortable atmosphere for everyone familiar with the story. 

The first two songs introduce us to our ensemble, consisting of a group of prancing reindeer (Brannon Evans, Munay Sin, Claire Heuertz) and dancing elves (Paisley Moore, Ainsley Powell, Vivian Rase, Lucy Beutler, Adele Coffey, Lucy Pfannanstiel). With colorful costumes and a featured tap sequence, the songs ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ and ‘Jingle, Jingle, Jingle’ set high expectations for the rest of the show.

And finally, the deer himself, Rudolph (DeVon Richards II), along with his parents Donner (Donovaughn Richards) and Mrs. Donner (Charity Williams,) are properly introduced in the story. Donner and Rudolph spend time survival training before it is time for Rudolph to begin his lessons at Santa’s reindeer academy. There, he meets the other reindeer, along with Clarice (Sydney DeLong) and Fireball (Sam Rhodes), who will soon become his friends. 

Meanwhile, in Santa’s workshop, the little elves are working away on their toy making. The number ‘When Santa Gets Your Letter’ features amazingly executed harmonies, and each girl’s character has quirks and charms that, from an audience standpoint, are immersive and fun to watch. The character Boss Elf (Sue Gillespie Valker) introduces misfit-elf Hermey (Jay Hayden), criticizing his work ethic. Hermey, despite expressing his desire to quit toymaking and pursue his dream career in dentistry, is ultimately sent back to work without a break, performing a lamenting soliloquy of “We’re A Couple of Misfits.”

Back at reindeer practice, Rudolph and his friends prepare to show off their soaring abilities to Coach Comet (Olivia Johnson). While he waits, Rudolph sparks up conversation with Clarice, who ends their interaction by calling the former ‘cute,’ boosting his confidence enough to quite literally outshine his classmates.

After a successful leap and glide into the air, Rudolph’s false nose, provided by his father, is lost, and his red one begins to glow. The other reindeer are frightened, even Clarice. Fireball proceeds to make a scene, catching Comet’s attention and causing Rudolph to be ‘banned from all reindeer games.’ Defeated, Rudolph continues Hermey’s ballad with his own moment in a continuation of “We’re A Couple of Misfits.”

Despite her initial shock, Clarice finds Rudolph again, apologizing for her reaction. Rudolph is grateful but assumes it is all in pity. Clarice refutes this with a song, “There’s Always Tomorrow,” featuring double-casted elf actresses Paisley Moore, Ainsley Powell, and Vivian Rase as Woodland Friends, including a fox, rabbit, and squirrel. Unfortunately, their time is cut short when Clarice’s Father (Karl Houser) reprimands his daughter for associating with Rudolph, and Clarice is powerless to defend him.

Back at the workshop, Boss Elf is excited to showcase her elves to Santa with a choreographed musical number, “We Are Santa’s Elves.” Her job as the Rose Theater’s resident choreographer makes Valker’s commentary of the dance much more entertaining. The elves perform their number, gradually noticing the lack of a dancer. With one less elf, the dance quickly falls apart, with the dancers tripping and falling onto the floor, however professional they try to be. After the song ends, Santa is predictably unimpressed and tells Boss Elf that she needs more control of her employees.

Hermey, who was decidedly absent from the performance, enters late, and Boss Elf wastes no time in chewing him out. Hermey runs out, vowing to do whatever it takes to get away from toy making and do what he loves. His wandering leads him to meet Rudolph. The two bond over their insecurities and quickly decide to run away together in search of a better life, but not before declaring their friendship with a duet of each’s “We’re A Couple of Misfits.”

Curious and naïve, the two misfits quickly run into trouble at the hands of Bumble(Ren Walther, Elizabeth Peller, Breanna Mack), the Abominable Snow Monster, feared by all. They are, however, quickly saved by gold prospector Yukon Cornelius (Karl Houser) who strands the beast on a glacier. Unfortunately, this means that our three protagonists are now floating aimlessly in the cold Arctic waters.

Even in the face of uncertainty, though, Yukon presents his optimistic and goofy personality with a lively song “Fame and Fortune,” where he describes his fantasies of striking it rich and never having to work again.

The first act ends with our trio adrift at sea but still manages to keep a fun and joyful tone as the stage goes dark.

During the 15-minute intermission, cookies and bottled water are sold for $1 a piece, as well as a small gift shop in the lobby selling stuffies and charms.

After a soft cookie and complimentary red-nose, the curtains rise again for the second act.

Still in the North Pole, the Donners and Clarice fret over the disappearance of Rudolph. Against Santa’s warnings, the three of them go off in search of the young reindeer.

Back on their iceberg, aimlessly adrift in the Arctic, Yukon continues on about how he hopes to strike it rich in his song “Silver and Gold.” Soon enough, however, he, Hermey, and Rudolph make landfall on the Island of Misfit Toys, a snowy land of toys, unwanted and rejected by the children they once belonged to. Among them are a jack-in-the-box called Charlie (Olivia Johnson), an Ostrich Cowboy (Sydney DeLong), and others.

They sing of Christmas being “The Most Wonderful Day of The Year” and how, each year, they hope to find a child who will love them. Eventually, Yukon, Hermey and Rudolph must depart again, deciding it would be best to return to the North Pole, where they will be safe. It isn’t long, however, before they are found again by Bumble, who has since captured Clarice and the Donners.

In an attempt to rescue the others, Yukon leads the monster over a cliff edge, sacrificing himself to save his friends. Clarice sings a reprise of her song “There’s Always Tomorrow” with Rudolph and the group heads home. 

Once they arrive, they share the story of Yukon’s sacrifice and bravery, only for Bumble to burst back onto the stage. However, Yukon is safely atop the snow monster, revealing his efforts to not have been in vain. Somewhere along the way, he had managed to befriend the beast and now offers to help the elves place the final star atop the final tree, just in time for Christmas. The colorful ensemble comes together once again to sing and dance the classic “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” before Boss Elf gathers her dancers to showcase the new and improved “We Are Santa’s Elves,” much to the delight of the man himself. 

Before any more celebration can commence, Santa reveals that the weather is not safe to travel in and that Christmas must be canceled. However, a solution quickly reveals itself in Rudolph’s own glowing red nose. With the reprise of “Holly Jolly Christmas,” Rudolph accepts the offer to guide Santa’s sleigh through the rain and snow. The melody melts into “A Merry, Merry Christmas to You” in which Rudolph guides Santa to the Island of Misfit Toys, where the discarded toys are united with their forever companions.

Upon their return, Sam wraps up the story, with the cast coming all together to perform the title song, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” accompanied by a karaoke track for the audience to sing along, as well as turn on their light-up nose they received during intermission.

The cast and crew give their bows, and the audience is invited to pose for a selfie to be posted after each show to the Rose Theater’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

The production is a beautiful retelling of the Christmas classic, featuring beloved characters and songs from the original, as well as a few artistic additions. Overall, I would recommend anyone who can see the show to do so, regardless of whether you celebrate the holiday or not, for it is a charming story of acceptance and overcoming adversity.

Tickets can be purchased on the Rose Theater’s website. The last showing is Saturday, Dec. 23, so book a seat if haven’t already.

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About the Contributor
Alex Elgert, Staff Reporter
Alex is a sophomore at MWHS. He enjoys reviewing entertainment media, like music, movies, plays, and books. This is his first year in the CATalyst staff.

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