Even though many of the Triangle’s favorite holiday shows are currently in production, you absolutely must see Theatre in the Park’s The SantaLand Diaries, starring Jesse R. Gephart. The SantaLand Diaries is a stage adaptation by Joe Mantello of an autobiographical essay written by former Raleigh author and humorist David Sedaris, who initially read the essay on National Public Radio, where he was a commentator. The essay follows his journey as an Elf for Macy’s department store in New York City.
Local favorite and comic delight Jesse R. Gephart reprises his dual role as David Sedaris and “Crumpet the Elf.” Gephart doesn’t just embrace and channel Sedaris, he makes the character his own as well. Gephart initially portrays Sedaris as a buoyant out-of-work actor with $20 to his name, trying to make it onto the set of ” One Life to Live“.
Just when all hope is lost, fate intervenes in the form of a help-wanted ad for “SantaLand” in the Macy’s department store. After completing elf boot camp and choosing his elf name of “Crumpet”, Sedaris is garbed in red-and-green Elf attire, including pointy shoes, red-and-white striped tights, and a skirt.
David/Crumpet inform the audience that not all department-store Santa Clauses are alike, and that each elf brings his or her own unique talents to SantaLand. As the days to Christmas shorten, so does patience, compassion, and internal fuses. Anyone who has ever worked in retail or customer service will understand the misanthrope mentality of Sedaris’ humor. Behind every shopping-mall Santa is an Elf helper, and behind every bright holiday grin is a glower. Although the elf may be smiling at you and taking photos of little Timmy, in his mind he has actually punched you in the face multiple times.
TIP patrons are treated to a beautiful replication of SantaLand by set and lighting designer Thomas Mauney and iconic elf attire by costume designer Denise Schumaker.
It was nice to have a non-child-friendly, adult themed show, I was genuinely laughing the entire hour long. Jesse Gephart does a great job with ad-libbing and interacting with the audience, but be sure to take care of your bathroom business prior to the show, because Crumpet doesn’t like it if you try to duck out during the show.
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 11th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Alan R. Hall: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=8276; and Dec. 3rd Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Mary Cornatzer: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article118420428.html.
Theatre in the Park presents THE SANTALAND DIARIES, starring Jesse R. Gephart as David/Crumpet, at 3 p.m. Dec. 11, 8 p.m. Dec. 12 Industry Night, 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: $24 ($15 TIP Members and $18 students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel), except $10 general-admission tickets — TIP says — “all of our theatre friends participating in other area holiday productions” on Industry Night at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12th (click here for details).
BOX OFFICE: 919-831-6058 or http://www.etix.com/.
SHOW: http://theatreinthepark.com/calendar/event/37/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/956303824534660/.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/, and https://www.facebook.com/theatreintheparkraleigh, https://twitter.com/TheatreInPark, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_in_the_Park.
NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair/walker accessible, and large-print playbills are usually available.
NOTE 2: This show contains adult humor and is “Not suitable for children,” according to TIP.
The SantaLand Diaries (1992 essay and 1996 play): http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5066175 (1992 NPR reading by David Sedaris) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SantaLand_Diaries (Wikipedia).
The Script (excerpts): http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
David Sedaris (author): http://www.barclayagency.com/sedaris.html (official bio courtesy the Barclay Agency), http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/lists/sedaris/ (National Public Radio), http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1358380/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sedaris (Wikipedia).
Jesse R. Gephart (actor): http://facebook.com/jrgephart (Facebook page).
Shannon Plummer-White is no stranger to the stage! She studied Musical Theater & Opera at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City, and has appeared in films such as Iron Man 3 and Safe Haven. She has also performed with the North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony. When she isn’t on stage or making magic behind the scenes, she can be found in the art studio playing with fire and molten glass. She is an animal advocate with a special love of cats. She has four rescued fur children and a very supportive husband. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.