The holidays bring many family traditions, among them classic TV specials that stand the test of time. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is no exception, and this year it celebrates the 50th anniversary of its inaugural airing on Dec. 6, 1964 on NBC (this year, it airs on CBS on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.).
Your family can experience Rudolph this year in a whole new way with a live stage musical version coming to TPAC’s Jackson Hall Dec. 16 – 21. The show includes the infamous nose-glowing reindeer and all his friends — including Hermey the elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster — who together help Santa save Christmas.
We caught up with Lexy Baeza, the actress playing Rudolph in the 70-minute show (among other acting credits, she played “John Darling” in Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan), to talk about the production and how she landed the role.
“I found out about the casting of the show late in the process,” Baeza says, noting that the other roles had been filled, but the production team was struggling to find the right fit for the lead. “I have a knack for imitating voices, so I submitted a video as an audition, and within a week I found out that I was chosen to play Rudolph because the creative team says I sound like him.”
Baeza says she’s excited about performing in the show. “I’ve watched the TV special every year for as long as I can remember,” she notes. “It’s my mom’s favorite Christmas special, and most of our holiday decorations are Rudolph themed.”
The actress says the stage version is faithful to the beloved TV version and comes with a few extras. “The TV special is the skeleton for this new stage musical that includes puppetry and projections,” Baeza says, adding that some of the musical numbers in the underscore of the special are now full songs on stage.
At the root of the Rudolph story is how everyone is unique, and Baeza says that’s what she hopes kids take away from the stage adaptation. “My favorite part of the story is that we’re all different, and that’s OK.”
TPAC is located at 505 Deaderick St., Nashville. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer flies onto the stage Tue – Fri 7 p.m., Sat 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m., Sun 11 a.m., 2 and 5 p.m. Tickets are $40 – $70. Call 782-4040 or visit tpac.org.