You might say Los Angeles-based performer Lexy Baeza has been preparing for years to play the title character in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical; at the age of eight she played Toto in a production of The Wizard of Oz and more recently was John Darling (as well as an understudy for the role of Peter Pan) in Cathy Rigby’s touring company.
“So I’ve played an animal and a boy before and now I’m playing a boy animal,” the 23-year-old says with a laugh. She and her castmates are in Nashville this week for shows Tuesday through Sunday in Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Polk Theater.
And there’s her vocal ability as well. “When people talk to me they say, ‘You already sort of sound like Rudolph,’” Baeza notes. “I guess I have a knack for doing voices and it works.”
Her time in Peter Pan also gave her experience with being in harness for flying sequences – she has to stay in that harness and her reindeer costume throughout the 90-minute production. And with 21 cities to cover in about a month, she and others in the 20-person cast are getting quite a daily workout.
But it’s all worth it for the privilege of bringing the 1964 stop-motion TV classic to life on stage – with those great Johnny Marks songs like the title track and “Holly Jolly Christmas” among others why wouldn’t it be? And then there’s the great interaction with audiences – “I hear them and I see them and I’m just on” – of all ages. “We’ve all wanted to do our best with this because it’s so iconic and so many people love it,” Baeza says.
Her mom Lisa grew up a big fan of the TV show – and passed the love of that onto Lexy and her sister Marissa. Music theatrical and otherwise is a big part of Lexy’s life – check out her recordings of contemporary music covers and her own songs on SoundCloud.
“I always say I have my musical theater voice and my songwriter voice,” Baeza explains. “I think as humans we’re all very musical anyway. Singing is a very universal thing – sometimes when people speak it even sounds like they’re singing.”
In addition to the love she has for music and the opportunity to play a part she grew up watching on TV each holiday season Baeza is also in tune with the show’s anti-bullying message that encourages a positive stance for the remarkable individuality in all of us. “You have to be confident in yourself,” Baeza says. “That speaks louder than anything you can pretend to be. That is genuine and people see and appreciate that.”
And from Santa’s Workshop to the Island of Misfit Toys, Baeza knows this entertaining holiday treat speaks to the hopeful and loving child in all of us. “It’s such a good show for everyone,” she says.
TPAC presents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical Tuesday through Sunday at Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Polk Theater (505 Deaderick St.). Shows are at 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets (starting at $40) are available online by clicking here, the TPAC box office or 615-782-4040. The production supports the #ShineBright social media campaign which is a celebration of uniqueness championed by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.
*Photos and video courtesy Lexy Baeza, Jam Theatricals and TPAC.