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LA Theater Review

Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer

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There's no need for a Grinch in this screwy musical by David Cerda and Scott Lamberty: Christmas Town is a police state and Santa Claus (Danny Lopes) a tyrant who has driven Mrs. Claus (Marina Mouhibian) to drink. When one of the reindeer wives (Etienne Eckert) has the temerity to criticize Santa, she's whisked away to be reprogrammed as a Stepford Doe.

And intolerance is rampant. Santa's reindeer are decidedly homophobic, so when Mr. and Mrs. Donner (Jerry Pappas and Lori Evans Taylor) produce a fawn named Rudolph (Eric Bunton) with a taste for wearing women's clothes, it's a scandal to be kept under wraps—till he turns up in ruffled panties and red fishnets. At the other end of the spectrum, Santa's Elves (Brett Hren, Florian Klein, Mark Schaefer, and Brett Nelson) are hedonistic gay gym bunnies, with no sympathy for the square in their midst, Herbie (Jeffrey Christopher Todd), who doesn't do drugs, doesn't go in for casual sex, and—gasp!—doesn't go to the gym.

Inevitably the two outcasts, Rudolph and Herbie, join forces for a series of adventures that introduce them to doughty lesbian prospector Yukon Cornelia (Madelynn Fattibene) and a towering transvestite known as the Abominable Drag Beast (Mark Landres). They also make a flying visit to the Island of Misfit Toys, where they discover Trailer-Trash Barbie (Shelby Kyle), the Half-Naked Cowboy (Hren), and Charlie-in-the-Box (Nelson). And, oh, yes, there's a reindeer named Clarice (Stephanie Turner) who falls for Rudolph. (Rudolph quickly reminds us that most cross-dressers are straight.)

It's all pretty silly, the plot doesn't make much sense, and the musical numbers are more spirited than memorable, but director Richard Israel and a talented cast keep it lively, fast-paced, and amusing, with noteworthy performances by Todd, Nelson, Fattibene, Turner, and Hren, on Chris Bell's picture-book set.

Presented by TheSpyAnts Theatre Company at the Elephant Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. Nov. 24-Jan. 13. (323) 860-8766.

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