While local theater legend Ira David Wood III is tickling Triangle funny-bones at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium with his over-the-top antics as Charles Dickens’ misanthropic old miser Ebenezer Scrooge in Theatre in the Park’s gust-busting musical version of A Christmas Carol, Jesse R. Gephart is quietly reprising, perhaps, his best performance in the juicy role of King of Snark David Sedaris in the joint Automatic Vaudeville and TIP production of The SantaLand Diaries, which will conclude its cheeky two-weekend run on Dec. 16-18 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre in Raleigh, NC.
Gephart is a hoot as the acerbic best-selling author and National Public Radio commentator and former Raleigh resident. “Attitude” is everything as Gephart impersonates the youthful, out-of-work, and dead-broke Sedaris, who took a seasonal job as an elf in Macy’s “SantaLand,” and turned the humiliation of walking around in pointy shoes dressed as an elf — and having to answer to an elfin name (he chose “Crumpet”) — into a classic Christmas story.
Now completely comfortable in David Sedaris’ skin, Jesse Gephart gladly sits in the seats of the scornful for a screamingly funny hour-long excoriation of dimwitted and occasionally demented denizens who work in “SantaLand” and obnoxious Macy’s customers who are more than a sandwich short of a picnic.
The sardonic commentary that Gephart delivers so gleefully — and with such a total command of the material — reminds this reviewer of the famous quip by presidential daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” The SantaLand Diaries would be a Yuletide dream-come-true for President Theodore Roosevelt’s impertinent daughter.
Automatic Vaudeville and Theatre in the Park presents THE SANTALAND DIARIES, starring Jesse R. Gephart, at 8 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17, and 3 p.m. Dec. 18 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $20 ($15 students, seniors, active-duty military personnel, and TIP season subscribers).
BOX OFFICE: 919/831-6058 or http://www.etix.com/.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919/831-6058.
Automatic Vaudeville: N/A.
Theatre in the Park: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/. VENUE: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/.
The SantaLand Diaries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SantaLand_Diaries (Wikipedia) and http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5066175 (1992 NPR reading by David Sedaris).
The Script (excerpts): http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
David Sedaris: http://www.barclayagency.com/sedaris.html (official bio courtesy the Barclay Agency), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sedaris (Wikipedia), http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/lists/sedaris/ (National Public Radio), http://www.newyorker.com/ (essays from The New Yorker), http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1358380/ (Internet Movie Database).
Jesse R. Gephart: http://facebook.com/jrgephart (Facebook page).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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