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Theatre in the Park’s “The SantaLand Diaries” Offers Holiday Fun for the Grown-Ups


This time of year, Theatre in the Park is pretty busy (and pretty popular), thanks to its annual production of Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that the theatre also puts on another Christmas themed show of the one-man variety, and it’s just as hilarious (if not more so) than “Carol.” The show,  The SantaLand Diaries is all about “Crumpet,” an actor-turned-elf at Macy’s famous SantaLand display. The story is based on a radio essay by David Sedaris and has been adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello, and the result is nothing short of hilarious…and even heartwarming.

Jesse R. Gephart is perfect as Crumpet, moving lithely across the stage and relating Crumpet’s misadventures with great comedic aptitude. He’s also not afraid to get the audience involved in his performance- he all-but-berated a group of latecomers to the opening night performance- in a good-natured sort of way, of course. And according to the program, he’s even been known to answer a ringing cell phone or two at performances of years past.

Despite the colorful elf costume and the toy-laden set, this is not a show for kids.It’s got some profanity and a lot of adult subject matter, but that’s really part of its charm. At a time of year when pretty much everything is “family friendly” and super saccharine, it’s nice to enjoy some adult humor. It’s a definite must for any “grown-up” needing a break from all the traditional holiday fare.

THE SANTALAND DIARIES, starring Jesse R. Gephart as David/Crumpet (Theatre in the Park, Dec. 12-14 and 19-21 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre in Raleigh, NC.

SHOW: and PRESENTER/VENUE:, and,, and


The SantaLand Diaries (1992 essay and 1996 play): (1992 NPR reading by David Sedaris) and (Wikipedia).

The Script (excerpts): (Google Books).

David Sedaris (author): (official bio courtesy the Barclay Agency), (National Public Radio), (Internet Off-Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Jesse R. Gephart (actor): (Facebook page).



Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews