REVIEW: Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer

Definitely not your father’s Rudolph

From left- Yukon Cornelia meets runaways Rudolph and Herbie (in Hell in a Handbag's Ruolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer. Photo credit- Rick Aguilar

Hell in a Handbag Productions presents:

Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer

 

Book and Lyrics by David Cerda
Music by David Cerda with Scott Lamberty
Directed by
Derek Czaplewski
At
Mary’s Attic (5400 N. Clark Street) thru January 2nd (ticket info)

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

From left- Rudolph, Yukon, and Herbiesee the Island of Misfit Toys in the distance in Hell in a Handbag's Ruolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer.Photo by Rick Aguilar A red panty-wearing reindeer, a boozy hag Mrs. Claus, and an elf with dental aspirations: two of these three character traits weren’t apparent in the traditional holiday classic. Hell in a Handbag Productions presents Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, a parody on the children’s television show “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The campy story tells the struggles of Rudolph (Alex Grelle), a transvestite reindeer born to wear Chanel silk in a J.C. Penney overalls world. In its 12th year, David Cerda has updated his Christmas town misfits’ story with topical jokes about Michael Jackson, the Catholic Church and healthcare. Cerda has unwrapped his imagination to create back stories for the residents of Christmas Town: a pedophile reindeer coach, a tyrant money-hungry Santa, enslaved go-go dancing elves, and a cosmetic surgery drag-queen victim as the snow beast. Not quite the hot-cocoa-by-the-fireplace-on-a-snowy-evening, this Rudolph is more like tequila shots at the bar on a bitter cold night.

In any Hell in a Handbag production, Ed Jones transforms his small supporting role into huge laughs. As a drunken Mrs. Claus, Jones’ facial expressions are hysterical. Joined by Rudolph, Herbie (Chris Walsh), and Clarice (Jennifer Shine), Jones’ quartet belts out the catchy tune “Christmas Makes Me Bitter.” It’s the perfect melody for holiday commercialism burn-outs. The witty combination of the television show’s familiar moments mixed with the dark and disturbing create a warped alternative to the “It’s a Wonderful Life” crowd. Walsh (no relation) nails Herbie the elf in pitch and robotic movement. From the moment she steps on the stage, Lori Lee (Yukon Cornelia) becomes a hilarious version of the simpleton prospector. Her traveling destination song “I Don’t Know” is an amusing rendition of an Abbott-Costello ‘who’s on first’.

From left- Santa Claus, loses patience with flamboyant Rudolph as Score the Elf looks on in horror in Hell in a Handbag's Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer. Photo by Rick Aguilar The greedy capitalist, Santa Claus, threatens one of his elves ( to work faster or suffer the consequences in Hell in a Handbag Productions 'Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer' at Mary's Attic. Photo by Rick Aguilar-

Over the last several years, I’ve made three trips to Cerda’s Christmas Town. Like Christmas cookies, I like to sample all of them but I have my favorites. This production comes in third with some awkward pauses. It’s unclear if it’s new material or new actors mixing with veterans. Regardless, Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer is still a great escape from songs like “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You” for the more realistic sentiment “They’ll Hate You If You’re Different.” The 2009 version may not be my favorite but it’s still a tasty holiday treat.

 

Rating: ★★★

 
Herbie, the 'not gay enough ' elf that has dreams of dentistry in Hell in a Handbag Production's Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer opening Dec. 5 at Mary's Attic. Photo by Rick Aguilar Score, the not so bright elf in Hell in a Handbag's Rudolph The Red-Hosed Reindeer. Photo by Rick Augilar

Aside: Joining me in Christmas Town, the misfits at my table described the show as, Brad: angry Christmas cheer, Matt: unique, flamboyant, weird and Marissa: cheap, good, cheap.

WAITING FOR THE SHOW

Tis the season… Beware of pick-pocketers. On the Clark Street bus (#22) during rush hour, a gentleman sat next to me with a plastic garment bag draped over his arm. En route, I had an unsettling vibe that my personal space was being violated. (and not in a good way!) I pulled the cord to exit the bus a few blocks from my destination. As I begin to leave, I realized my cell phone was missing from my coat pocket. I went back to my seat to ask the #22 bandit if he had found my cell phone. After asking loudly twice, the snow beast shifted in the seat to reveal my cell phone. After grabbing it, I reported the incident to the bus driver. Don’t let the freeze misers turn your holiday into a “Hard Candy Christmas.” BEWARE of the Winter Warlock!

After thwarting an Andersonville crime, it’s hard to dispute the convenience of Hamburger Mary’s (5400 N. Clark) located directly below the theatre. It’s a campy burger joint with playful food names, holiday drinks and high-heeled bill presenters. Balancing my current Christmas cookie diet, I opt for the eggplant panini with portabella mushrooms and red peppers. It was the perfect way to eat your veggies between two slice of bread with mozzarella!

Post theatre, we were once again victims to criminal activities. Brad and Marissa had meter violation tickets. Apparently, it’s too cold for the meters to function properly but not for the meter man. Feeling the holiday blues, we bailed on a nightcap knowing “There is always tomorrow” or in Cerda’s world “There is Always Next Tuesday.”

3 Responses

  1. […] CHeck out the rest at Chicago Theater Blog […]

  2. Can you please include a photo credit on these images of mine.
    Rick Aguilar

  3. I’m pretty sure Herbie the elf wants to be a dentist in the television version as well.

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