Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReinDOORS/by The Troubadour Theater Company/based on the clay-mation film Rudolph/directed by Matt Walker/Falcon Theatre/through January 13, 2013
There is quite frankly no other theatre company in LA like the Troubadour Theater Company or as they like to be nicknamed the Troubies. Therefore, any comparisons are invalid. They compose and perform to the tune of their own drummer to such a high degree of professionalism that their reputation precedes them. Their runs are always sold out in advance. They are that good, indeed! And like most unique groups, they do not rest on their laurels. They aim to do better. Now onstage at the Falcon Theatre through January 13, 2013, the Troubies are slaying the legend of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the music of the Doors in the aptly titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReinDOORS, and with their true sense of cockeyed unison and never say die, the message of Christmas rings out loud and clear once more.
Yes, Santa Claus, no storm can possibly ruin Christmas this year! You will come up with a way to save it. Of course, the Troubies' Santa is hardly normal, or is the actor playing him, Rick Batalla. Instead of a white beard, he's black and hairy in all the wrong places...I won't destroy his look. You must see it for yourselves. Guaranteed laughs! His wife Mrs. Claus (Lisa Valenzuela), who also leads a rousing audience sing-a-long before opening curtain, is vociferously encouraging to Santa's plight. How can his sleigh pass through a storm that will make "Hurricane Sandy look like a car wash"? Rudolph (Steven Booth) is different and treated as a misfit and was never considered a leader until...But, this is Rudie's story, so a lot happens before he is called upon to save the day...like being treated normally by his parents Donner (Matt Walker) and Blitzen (Beth Kennedy), who passes away the hours drunk on Tab. Rudy meets up with a misfit elf Hermey (Kyle Nudo) - who aspires to be a dentist, no less - and the two comrades find an island of misfit toys come to life - a deliciously colorful scene. Another crazy memorable scene is the opening birth of Rudolph done akin to the opening of Wicked, only here we get red instead of green.
The zany cast also includes Paul C. Vogt, always fun to watch, as jovial narrator Sam the Snowman, Molly Alvarez as sweet Clarice, Brice Beckham as Prancer, Dan Waskom as Comet and also Bomi, on stilts, Mike Sulprizio as Dasher and Yukon, Darrin Revitz as Cupid and Suzanne Narbonne as Vixen. Most all of the versatile actors play several roles. Kennedy does her famous turn as the Winter Warlock in defiance of the Abominable Snow Monster. It is always a treat to see her play this role, also on stilts with deliciously long Edward Scissorhand fingers. Other standouts are Booth as loveable Rudolph, Batalla as the unusual Santa - much more in control this time around, as much of the time he pulls a Tim Conway on the cast prolonging a scene forever. Outrageous Santa but within limits! Everyone has a great time onstage and Walker even manages to throw in a tiny circus at one point.
Musical director Eric Heinly on drums, Kevin McCourt on keyboards, Jack Majdecki on guitar and Kevin Stewart on Bass rock and roll to the Doors hits, which include: "Touch Me", "People Are Strange", "Riders on the Storm", "Love Her Madly", "Light My Fire", "Hello, I Love You", "The End" and "Break On Through to the Other Side" among numerous others.
Molly Alvarez is responsible for some terrific choreographed moves, Jeffrey McLaughlin for his great set design, Sharon McGunigle for some brightly colorful costumes and Jeremy Pivnick for his super lighting. Walker as director has streamlined the action making the play the thing, moving it all along with a brisk pace and little nonsense. There are some great sight gags as always, which I will not tell you about, as you must go and see for yourselves. It's SRO, but don't let that stop you. Now through January 13 don't miss the Troubies and Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReinDOORS. This is not my personal favorite Troubie Christmas show, but the artistry and execution are divine.