Behind the Scenes with Natalie Holt MacDonald from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

Ashleigh Prince spoke with Natalie Holt MacDonald from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical about the show, her career, the holiday season and more. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.

Ashleigh: Welcome back to Behind the Scenes at The Hanover Theatre. We’re here with Natalie Holt MacDonald from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. Hello, Natalie! 

Natalie: Hi! Thank you so much for having me. 

Ashleigh: Thank you for coming on! I’m so excited to have you here today. I love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and when I was doing research for this show, I realized that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical at The Hanover Theatre is playing on the same premiere date as the special! I think it’s just meant to be.  

Natalie: I love that! That’s wonderful.  

Ashleigh: I thought we had a very beautiful case of serendipity when National Silent Movie Day fell on the day of our showing of Nosferatu a couple of months ago in October. Things just work out sometimes!  

Natalie: That’s awesome. 

Ashleigh: It is! Natalie, how about you introduce yourself to our listeners? 

Natalie: Hello, I’m Natalie Holt MacDonald! I am from the Los Angeles area and this is my fifth time playing the role of Rudolph. This is my fourth national tour, and in 2019 I played the role at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. I’m very excited to be back and I’m very excited to perform at The Hanover Theatre! It sounds beautiful. 

Rudolph, played by Natalie Holt MacDonald, is sitting on the floor, looking off camera at someone with a small smile.
Natalie Holt MacDonald in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (Photo by Timothy Norris)

Ashleigh: Yes! I may be a little biased, but I do think it’s pretty gorgeous. We can’t wait for Rudolph to come here. Let’s talk about the show itself, because I think it speaks to the misfit in all of us, right? Everyone is so familiar with the show, the message and the music, obviously. What is your connection with Rudolph? Do you have fond memories of watching Rudolph with your family? 

Natalie: The show is all about accepting other people for their differences, and how those differences really build up the community and make life better for everyone. It really is a show about humanity, loving each other and the Christmas spirit, which is really special. I have been watching this TV special for as long as I can remember. The stop-motion is absolutely adorable.

It’s amazing that I get to be a part of it now and play such an iconic role to bring that same Christmas spirit to people across the country.

Natalie Holt MacDonald

Ashleigh: I know! I have a large family with a lot of younger cousins, so I can’t wait to take my little cousins to see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical and experience that with them. It’s so different when you’re experiencing these things with children because they’re so full of wonder and they love the magic of the story. I’m so excited to be bringing my own family there and reliving all of my special memories and holiday traditions. I’m wondering, do you have any holiday traditions of your own? 

Natalie: I do! Rudolph is currently the tradition, which didn’t happen last year but has happened for many years. For my family, we always open one present on Christmas Eve – it’s always pajamas. The next morning, we open stockings together and we always have time to open Christmas presents together. We always put up a tree and completely cover it in ornaments, and we try to put up outdoor Christmas lights every year. We always try to make a wonderful Christmas dinner for the family to enjoy, so it is a special time for all of us. 

Ashleigh: Does the Rudolph cast have any special traditions while you’re touring during the holiday season? Is there anything fun happening behind the scenes? 

Natalie: Yeah! We always try to do Secret Santa for the month of December. You’ll get to your dressing room and there might be a little gift in there from your Secret Santa, and that’s always really special. Also, because the tour usually starts before Thanksgiving, we will always have a Thanksgiving together with our whole cast family. Because we’re together all the time, we really become a true family and we spend all of that together. It’s very special. 

Yukon Cornelius, Rudolph, and Hermey the Elf stand triumphantly together on the island of misfit toys.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (Photo by Timothy Norris)

Ashleigh: That is special! I think that everyone is really interested in what goes on behind the scenes. They experience the beauty of the show and they’re here for a little bit, but I think people are curious about what goes on backstage and what that’s like from an actor’s perspective. Being in the role of Rudolph for so long, has Rudolph taught you anything? 

Natalie: Absolutely. Rudolph has taught me all about being open to people who are different from you. As an actor, that’s something I work on, too.

My whole job is to put myself in other people’s shoes and to tell their story from a really true place. I think that’s amazing that that’s what this show is about; accepting other people and loving each other for their differences.

Natalie Holt MacDonald

Natalie: Also, Rudolph gets to venture off on his own and figure out who he is. I think that’s important for a lot of people, to do self-reflection and understand who they are as a person. Those are some of the things that I believe Rudolph has taught me. I’m sure that’s what we represent on the stage as well, about the Christmas spirit and about keeping your promises. Rudolph says, “I’m going to tell Santa about these misfit toys on the island, we’re going to come get them and find loving homes for them,” and he stays true to that promise. He ends up taking all of the misfits to loving homes, and it’s so feel-good. 

Rudolph and Clarice are standing together on a snowy stage made to look like a north pole forest. Two raccoon puppets are peeking out from behind a tree.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (Photo by Timothy Norris)

Ashleigh: It really is. There’s something special about the holiday season that just doesn’t compare to anything else. I think that The Hanover Theatre’s holiday season this year is jam-packed with lots of fun, especially with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer hereBecause we’ll be seeing Rudolph on its original premiere date, December 6, I’m wondering, how similar is the live show to the TV special? 

We try to stay very true to the TV special. You’ll notice that our set pieces are puppetry and our costumes are very similar to what you’ll see on the TV special, and even our voices are very similar.

Natalie Holt MacDonald

Natalie: However, there are a couple of little surprises that are in there that you’ll have to come see the show to figure out what those are! Our director and choreographer, Dana Solimando, has added some incredible choreography and staging that really just brings everything to life. It’s incredible, you have got to come see it! 

Ashleigh: If you’re ready to see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical on a very, very special date, December 6, please visit TheHanoverTheatre.org or contact the Box Office at 877.571.SHOW (7469) and get your tickets today! Do not miss this holiday classic, it is going to be as magical as it always is.