Who better to lead a kids’ Christmas show than Rudolf?

He’s only too happy to share the spotlight with energetic youngsters cutting loose with a goofy antic or a spontaneous one-liner.

Singer Dave Rudolf regularly allows little ones with a big sense of fun to upstage him when he performs children’s shows nationwide. Rudolf, 65, brings his free, hour-long, yuletide presentation for the pint-sized to Old National Bank’s First Fridays For Families at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 at The Commons, 300 Washington St.

“You learn to go with the flow,” said Rudolf, speaking by phone from his home in Park Forest, Illinois. “Sometimes, the most true moments come when there’s no set pattern in the show.”

Who better to trust with a holiday performance than a guy named Rudolf, even if his spelling is a bit different than the beloved reindeer? He last appeared at First Fridays five years ago with a fall, tropical-themed show that left the audience feeling warm and sunny.

Tami Sharp, the Columbus Area Arts Council’s program director, has seen the performer reach a varied audience — something that Rudolf acknowledged that he specifically aims to do.

“His music and humor are definitely cross-generational,” Sharp said. “Kids of all ages are in for a real treat.”

He offers up the “Candy Cane Twist” for kids needing to burn off their holiday excitement. Or they can hula-hoop to “Santa’s Got a Zoot Suit.” Plus, parodies such as “Oh Come, Oh Come I Read the Manual” and “Do You Fear What I Fear?” add a comic touch for older siblings and also parents.

“I really like seeing the kids act goofy,” he said. “And I’ve found that the kids like seeing the adults acting goofy.”

Rudolf grew up wishing for sports equipment most Christmases: gloves, bats, balls, you name it.

He also fell in love with classic toys such as electric footballs. Several years ago, he starred in a TV pilot for a Captain Kangaroo-style children’s show that never aired. He figures it’s just as well.

“Following an icon is never a great idea,” Rudolf said.

Although he sees the late “Captain Kangaroo” Bob Keeshan as gifted, a similarly formatted show “would never fly today,” as he sees it. He recalled one episode in which Keeshan spent most of the time leisurely dusting the plants.

“The media today has taught all of us — adults and children — to expect more and more with everything presented faster and faster,” he said.

And yet, here’s Rudolph singing of “Frosty the Slowman.”

He worries little about slow pacing, though.

He knows that, especially when he least expects it, the smallest audience members can get the biggest laughs stealing the spotlight.

— Brian Blair, staff writer bblair@therepublic.com

Bringing holiday happiness

Who: Comic singer Dave Rudolf heading Old National Bank’s First Fridays For Families presented by the Columbus Area Arts Council.

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 4. An hour-long, interactive show.

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.

Age range: Rudolf says his audiences typically range from preschoolers to age 12.

Admission: Free.

Information: 812-376-2539 or artsincolumbus.org.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.