Now in its twelfth year, Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer, the campy parody by David Cerda of the beloved 1964 television special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, reminds us that accepting who you are is a real challenge, especially when friends, family, and that nosy Joan Crawford clone, all want you to conform.
However, if you simply slip into some sling pumps, snap on a pair of sparkly clip-on earrings and sing out a showtune, happiness will eventually follow.
As I’ve gathered from previous Hell in a Handbag productions, Cerda’s special brand of gay camp employs pre-recorded musical tracks with marginally clever lyrics, ample references to “Valley of the Dolls” and “Mommie Dearest,” and a cameo featuring Cerda himself as the resident Joan Crawford. If you go for this sort of thing, you’ll love Red-Hosed Reindeer. Otherwise, you’ll be mystified beyond belief, as my poor theatre companion found himself.
Fortunately, I’m a somewhat fan of draggy camp, and appreciate the care Cerda and his team have invested into this production, including the outrageous misfit toy costumes, the hand puppet woodland creatures, and Herbie’s authentically neon yellow hair (the sweet little elf who only wants to be a dentist – remember him?)
The show obviously has its fans, who came out in droves the night I saw it. And for good reason – it’s a fun, lighthearted 90 minutes of fluff. I also appreciate the message that narrow-mindedness exists even within minorities – specifically the gay and drag communities’ bitter judging of those who don’t fit the accepted stereotype. Poor Herbie, perfectly parodied by Chris Walsh, embodies this theme, as he struggles with fitting in with the other gay elves who visit the gym religiously, own every Babs and Liza album, and sleep with anything with a heartbeat. Herbie’s simple, earnest desire to be a dentist is different and, therefore, wrong. Or is it?