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Review: Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer (Hell in a Handbag Productions)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

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Rudolph the
   Red-Hosed Reindeer

Book and Lyrics by David Cerda
Music by David Cerda and Scott Lamberty
Directed by AJ Wright  
at Mary’s Attic, 5400 W. Clark Street (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tickets: $15-$20   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
   Read entire review



Santa is a perv


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Hell in a Handbag Productions presents


Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer

Review by Katy Walsh 

Every year, I see a lot of *nice* holiday shows.  And maybe just one *naughty* one! 

Hell in a Handbag Productions presents Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer.  Playwright David Cerda takes the beloved children’s classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and slaps some ruffled red panties on it.  It’s a little familiar and a whole lot funny.  There are the traditional; Donner and his wife, Sam the Snowman, and Herbie the Elf.  Then, there are the timeless characters with a twist…twisted to hysterical perversion. Rudolph is a transvestite.  Santa is a perv.  Mrs. Claus is a booze-hag.  The elves are circuit slaves.  This is not your normal Christmas story.  It’s the abnormal one!  Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer struts its raunchy, dirty underwear with campy pride.  

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Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer is now in its 14th year.  I’m estimating over its tenure, I’ve seen it at least six times.  I can always count on familiar ‘Christmas Makes Me Bitter‘ humor.  Plus, I always know Cerda will weave in topical jokes.  This year’s offering poked fun of Kim Kardashian, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Penn State.  The bombshells are dropped for explosive laughter and some disgusted gasps.  I never think it’s-too-soon for Cerda’s wickedly delicious humor.  He even rewrote the witty lyrics on ‘There’s always next Tuesday‘ to include a nod out to “American Horror Stories.”  NICE!  

Many of Handbag ensemble members come home for the holidays in this annual staple.  Always, always, always able to make me laugh, Ed Jones (Mrs. C, Abominable Drag Beast) slurs and twirls like an alcoholic desperate housewife.  Jones is my prescription for the holiday blues.  He is side-splitting, wig-popping,  lip-smacking delectable.  Lori Lee (Yukon) is also another favorite. She plays it perfectly dim-witted.  And because it’s a Handbag hallmark, I’m encouraged and prodded to laugh at the moronic.  And I do… loudly! Her ‘I don’t know‘ song with Alex Grelle (Rudolph) and Chad Ingold (Herbie) is just farcical follies.  Holiday absurdity is the best!  This entire cast is having fun with the lunacy.  And the audience is in on the jokes! 

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My mom prides herself in getting people a *clever* gift.  Depending on the sense of humor of the receiver, the gift is a bust or a must. Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer is a *clever* gift.  It’s the alternative to sentimental, tinsel-hanging, brightness.  It’s definitely not for kids.  And some adults might not enjoy the disrespectful take on Christmas either.  Me?  It’s like being invited to David Cerda’s annual holiday party!  I always have a good time and leave smiling… and humming. 


Rating: ★★★



Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer continues through December 30th at Mary’s Attic, 5400 W. Clark (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm. Additional 7:30pm Wednesday performances on 12/21 and 12/28.  Tickets are $15-$20, and can be reserved by phone (800-838-3006) or purchased at More info at  (Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission)

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