Short & Sweet guest critic Ed Moon of Buffalo Grove draws upon over 28 years of theater production experience gained from his current position as Technical Director/Scenic Designer at Buffalo Grove High School and previous position as the John Hersey High School Technical Director/Designer and Production Manager. In keeping with his experience, Moon noticed the set first: "[The set] just pulled the families in; pulled the kids in." Moon was also impressed by the show's consistency with Burl Ive's rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Short & Sweet host, Diana Martinez, shares her review of the show below.
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There's a new holiday show in town, and it has the right elements to be the perfect holiday show for the little ones in your life. I had the pleasure of going to the opening night of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical™ on opening night with my guest critic Ed Moon and his wife. Ed, a high school tech director, especially appreciated the beautiful and creative set and puppets, which are very reminiscent of a larger-than-life magical Claymation cartoon set. The show has adorable animal puppets, which romp onto the stage throughout the show, as well as highly creative and very effective reindeer costumes. There is a very impressive larger-than-life "Abominable Snow Monster" who is defeated by a really creative on stage avalanche thanks to Yukon Cornelius, who saves the day. I think Ed said it best while we watched a little girl pointing at the stage with her jaw dropped in awe, "That's what this is all about": kids enjoying the wonder of it all.
This original musical adaptation is based on the classic 1964 television special and is collaboration between First Stage, in Milwaukee, and Chicago's abundantly creative Emerald City Theatre. The show features a large cast of 12 adults and 22 kids who fill the stage with holiday cheer. The score includes your favorite holiday songs such as "Silver and Gold," "Holy Jolly Christmas," and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" -- there's even a sing-a-long or two for the audience to take part in.
One of the show's stand-out scenes features Michael Acccardo, who plays the perfect overzealous "reindeer coach," conducting flying lessons and tryouts for Santa's reindeer team. The script is witty and offers a few good laughs for the adults in the crowd. Accardo has the right finesse for the stylized play and also delivers a great performance in his role of Yukon Cornelius.
The story touches upon the themes of "judging a book by its cover," prejudice and bullying, but does an even better job of delivering messages about accepting others as they are, and how being different from others is okay and can be better defined as "being independent." The Playbill includes a great pullout guide for grown ups with an outline for discussing these topics with your kids.
I think the Moon's and I enjoyed watching a pair of young boys directly in front of us as they reacted to the performance, as much as we enjoyed the show itself. One of the boys was two years old and the other was three years old. They danced in their seats and pointed and laughed throughout the entire show, until the snow monster's big giant puppet arm appeared. That's when one of the boys leaned in for more, while his counterpart headed toward the lobby. At intermission both were back in their seats, the one with an abominable snow monster souvenir doll, and the other with a "Reindeer Nose" as they watched the second act with intensity.
This show is prime for little ones ages three to seven, however, it's suitable for all ages. I can assure you that there were plenty of adults in the audience with big smiles watching this nostalgic holiday classic come to life on stage. The show runs one hour and twenty minutes and is playing through Jan. 5 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E. Chestnut St.).