By Carol Carter
If you drive by the Center for Puppetry Arts on Spring Street anytime between now and early January, don’t let that round red glow alarm you. Rudolph – you know, the red-nosed reindeer – is back, and his nose shines brighter than ever. The theater was packed with preschoolers on opening day, and the one sitting next to me apparently was learning about Rudolph for the first time.
Before the show began, her mom told her, “There’s a song about Rudolph, you know.” Then Mom quietly sang it to her daughter. Suitable for ages 4 and up, the puppet show, based on the 1964 stop-motion animated TV special, was adapted and directed by Jon Ludwig.
The puppeteers, who appeared briefly as themselves after the show, told the audience that all the puppets were made right there at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. And they are fabulous. There’s Rudolph, of course, and Santa, plus Hermey, the elf who prefers dentistry; Yukon Corneilus the prospector; the Abominable Snow Monster and more. (Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Corneilus and the Snow Monster are pictured below.)
The outstanding work of the puppeteers is enhanced with terrific props – movable mountains, the Island of Misfit Toys, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Claus – and a film that shows up on a screen that is transparent so that the activities of the puppets are visible through whatever appears on screen.
The old familiar story, of course, is about the snow storm that caused Santa to almost cancel Christmas. Rudolph, who had been cast out by his family and friends because of his unusual nose, saved the day. And that day happened to be Christmas Eve.
Along the way to what turned out to be another “Holly Jolly” Christmas, you’ll see ice-skating chipmunks, twirling Christmas trees, hopping rabbits and a doe named Clarice.
When Rudolph becomes old enough to participate in reindeer training, wouldn’t you know that all of the other reindeer “wouldn’t let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”
Rudolph leaves Christmastown, and, along with Hermey the elf, he sets out to make his own way in life. They end up on the Island of Misfit Toys where they find a water pistol that squirts Jello, a Charlie in the Box, below, (Everybody wants a Jack in the Box, so Charlie is a misfit) and a train whose caboose has square wheels. They are sad and homeless toys – misfits.
After some scary encounters with the Abominable Snow Monster, Rudolph ultimately finds himself back in Christmastown.
And, as luck would have it, “then one foggy Christmas Eve. . .”
Photos by Clay Walker
Carol Carter writes for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau