On Playing Rudolph (with the Red-Nose), Sharon Pearlman Sees a Gay Icon

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday December 3, 2019

With Ebenezer Scrooge, the Grinch and even Dolly Parton finding their way to holiday stages, why not Rudolph, the Red-Nose Reindeer?

Rudolph first appeared in 1939 in a booklet published by Montgomery-Ward in a poem written by Robert L. May. A decade later he was immortalized in a popular song by country-cowboy singer Gene Autry. But most remember Rudolph from its iconic television special when the stop-motion animated version was broadcast in 1965 with Burl Ives narrating and singing a classic version of its title song. It has been a holiday tradition ever since.

Five years ago, Rudolph came to the stage in an adaptation of the popular television special with some clever musical additions, including "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree." The adaptation is by Robert Penola, with conception and direction by Jeff Frank.

The tour comes to Boston on December 6 for a three-day run before moving to dates in the Northeast and the Middle West. For the full list of dates, visit the show's website.

Leading the cast in the title role is LA-based actress Sharon Pearlman, who when she isn't putting her red nose on can be seen on her YouTube series "Sharon's Drunken Musical Impressions," which just entered its second season.

EDGE spoke to the actress recently about playing the iconic holiday character.

Cute, fun, sweet show

EDGE: What is it like playing Rudolph?

Sharon Pearlman: It has been an absolute joy and pleasure. It is such a cute, fun and sweet show. It is really amazing to be able to light up the faces of the audience members night after night with Christmas cheer.

EDGE: Are there any differences between this show and the TV special?

Sharon Pearlman: Not too many. It is a pretty exact recreation of the TV special. The biggest difference is you are seeing live on stage. Some of the characters are puppets and some of them are performers in costumes. It's amazing how close it is to the TV special everyone knows and loves.

EDGE: Aside from Rudolph, who is your favorite character in the show?

Sharon Pearlman: I really love the character of Clarice. I think that her song is really beautiful, and her unending optimism is so refreshing. It is exactly what Rudolph and the story needs to get to the happy ending.

A gay icon?

EDGE: it's a belief that "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a "parable of gay acceptance."

Sharon Pearlman: I think that Rudolph is an excellent outsider. There are so many gay parallels to the story. In terms of coming out, it took his parents and friends a while to accept him. I think that especially rings true with many in the LGBT community. He is an important icon for anyone who felt like that they didn't fit in.

EDGE: Nowadays, everything is becoming political. Even Rudolph! He is bullied throughout the story because he is different. What do you say to the naysayers?

Sharon Pearlman: In regard to Rudolph being bullied, I think it is a good and important lesson for kids growing up that a lot of times if you are being bullied for something, that means that something is special. Everyone is different. Kids shouldn't be discouraged when they are being called names and should get help to work through it.

EDGE: Rudolph is known as the longest-running Christmas TV special. Why do you think people enjoy it so much?

Sharon Pearlman: I think that the message of acceptance and everyone celebrating differences is a universal and important message. The change that the community goes through from ostracizing Rudolph to accepting him ends up being heartwarming. It really is a timeless story with a timeless theme.

Getting a quick vibe

EDGE: What do you love most about touring with a holiday show?

Sharon Pearlman: I love going from town to town and getting a quick vibe of the culture and how each town celebrates the holidays. Also, I love working with this cast. They are incredible and the cheeriest people I have ever met.

EDGE: Favorite thing about the holiday season?

Sharon Pearlman: Just getting to spend good quality time with family and friends. The gift giving stuff is nice but the connecting with others is what it is all about.

"Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer" plays December 6 - 8 at the Boch Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street, Boston, MA. For more information, about the tour, visit

For more information on the show, visit, visit its website, For more information about the the Boch Center website.

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