By PAM HARBAUGH
Get ready. It’s Crumpet the Elf as described by the irascible David Sedaris in his underground phenom, “The Santaland Diaries,” opening Thursday and running through Sunday at the Henegar Center in the venue’s second floor Studio Theatre.
Intended for a more sophisticated crowd, perhaps one that enjoys a soupcon of cynicism in their eggnog.
Indeed, for “The Santaland Diaries” is a late night adult treat with a 10 p.m. curtain (except for Sunday which has an 8 p.m. curtain). Get there early enough and you can hit the bar and pick up a beer or wine…and yes, bring it into the theater.
The show stars Orlando actor/director BeeJay Aubertin Clinton and is directed by yours truly. And it has been one of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on. Here’s the gist:While using martinis to tend his parched throat, Crumpet the Elf goes into detail about the motley crew forming the cast of elves; the awful behavior shown by many adults; the army of Santas; and the ignominy of someone fabulous having to wear a perky green cap.
There is language. There is snarky attitude. There is too much information. There is “oh no you didn’t!” In fact, I’m calling it a holiday “palate cleanser.”
“I made the trip out to Melbourne to audition for the show, not really sure what to expect,” Mr. Clinton said. “When I received the call that I got the role, I simultaneously wanted to cheer and vomit.”
Ha!The one-man show is based on a story Mr. Sedaris presented as actual experience working as an elf in Macy’s Herald Square Santaland in New York City: Raised in North Carolina, he moved to New York in hopes of being an actor; out of work, he decided to do something to pay the bills, hence the elf gig at Santaland.
Mr. Sedaris eventually went on to become a celebrated humorist and popular author. His essay, “Santaland Diaries” was his breakthrough moment on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” Broadway director Joe Mantello turned the essay into a one-man show and opened it Off-Broadway in 1996 starring Timothy Olyphant.
However, since then, The Washington Post wrote that after a fact-checking story ran in New Republic, Mr. Sedaris now calls his stories “realish.” Nevertheless, “Santaland Diaries” continues to be an NPR favorite and the play has become a favorite of professional regional and community theaters around the country.“Doing this show has stretched me as an actor in ways I think I never expected,” Mr. Clinton said. “Still, when I think about opening night, I kinda want to vomit a little but I’m also really excited for people to see the amount of work and heart Pam and I have put into this little show.”
SIDE O’ GRITS: THE SANTALAND DIARIES runs 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday in the Studio Theater on the second floor of the Henegar Center, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne. Tickets are $26 general, $23 for military and seniors and $16 for students, plus a $3 handling fee per ticket. The show is not suitable for children. Call 321-723-8698 or visit Henegar.org or click on their ad.
All photos by Dana Niemeier Photography. This is an edited version of a story running in the Melbourne Beachsider.