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GAY SAN DIEGO December 17-30, 2010

THEATRE New Village serves up caustic cheer in ‘Santaland Diaries’


New Village Arts Theatre 2787 State Street, Carlsbad (760) 433-3245

Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m. Matinees, Saturday, 3 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m.

Daren Scott as Crumpet the Elf in New Village Arts Theatre’s production of the “Santaland Diaries.” (Courtesy New Village Arts Theatre)

By Jean Lowerison | Special to GSD D

id you ever wonder who those goofy-look- ing department store

Santas and elves really are and how they got there? Many of them at the

Macy’s in New York are unemployed actors and writ- ers like David Sedaris, who spent one holiday season in a yellow turtleneck and yellow and green striped tights un- der a hunter green velvet suit and absurd green stocking

cap, sporting green turned-up elvin boots. The country first met

Crumpet the Elf in 1992, when Sedaris did the piece on NPR. Joe Mantello adapted it for the stage in 1996, and “Santaland Diaries” quickly became a holiday staple in cities across the country. Daren Scott plays Crum-

pet through Christmas Eve, under the direction of Kris- tianne Kurner (who herself once worked retail at the Herald Square Macy’s).

Solomon returns with ho-ho-hilarious one-man show

By Cuauhtémoc Kish | Theatre critic

Actress Portia De Ros- si’s best-selling tome “Un- bearable Lightness” speaks in part to the fear of being herself (i.e. lesbian) after she signed a contract for a role on the popular “Ally McBeal” TV show. She was afraid that if she announced her gayness, she’d never act in Tinseltown again. In Jeffrey Solomon’s “Santa Claus Is Coming Out,” ol’ St. Nick is having a similar dilemma. Seems that Claus is afraid he may be outed after signing a lucra- tive promotional deal with Coca-Cola, a contract that goes a long way in keeping the Santa franchise afloat economically. Santa fears that if he walks out of the closet vol- untarily, his iconic reign as the “King/Queen” of holiday cheer might be questioned, or worse. This so-called theatrical mocumentary is all about a young boy named Gary who asks Santa Claus for a doll for Christ- mas, and can’t understand why he received a truck instead— especially when he hasn’t been the slightest bit naughty. The holiday wrapping on this show is all about a boy’s realization that he’s different. Writer and performer Jeffrey Solomon easily morphs into a multitude of characters to tell his award-winning story, moving from one character to the next, with comfort, charm and ease. He is well-directed by Joe Brancato. Solomon employs Santa’s Agent, Sidney Green (who refers


Diversionary Theatre

4545 Park Blvd, Suite 101 San Diego (619) 220-0097 Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m.

Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m. Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m.

to himself as the “Little Jew Who Saved Christmas”) to provide some backstory on the “true story of Santa-gate.” Naturally, Solomon also plays Gary’s sympathetic and kind-

The 70-minute show plays out on a slightly tacky set with a fake tree, a train chug- ging around the base, lots of lights and the big green door behind which Santa sits. It’s embarrassing, Crum- pet notes, to be a 40-year-old man forced to answer ten pages of written questions and endure three interviews to get a job as an elf. But, he notes, consider how much more embarrassing it would be not to get the job. And besides, he tells himself,

“it won’t be quite as sad as standing on a street corner dressed as a French fry.” Crumpet describes elf training (complete with Walmart-style motivational cheers) and all the facets of working Santaland. For ex- ample, there’s magic star elf (who tells children they can see Santa if they stand on the star) and pointer elf (show- ing wide-eyed tykes the way out). Mostly, Crumpet spends

see Santaland, pg 25

Jeffrey Solomon in Diversionary Theatre’s production of “Santa Claus is Coming Out.”

(Courtesy Charles S. Reece)

ly mother, along with Gary’s unsympathetic and macho father. Then he’s the brash, in-your-face Jose, his rainbow girlfriend from the Stonewall days, and for balance, Mary Ellen Banfield, who speaks for FAGA (Families Against the Gay Agenda). He’s also Santa’s male lover of some 24 years, Giovanni, as

well as Claus’ sham wife, and even the red-nosed and obviously “out” Rudolph. And let’s not forget about Gary’s adolescent, black peer; Tracy.

see Coming Out, pg 21

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