Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Empire Stage: The Santaland Diaries (reviews)

SantalandEmpire Stage opened its production of The Santaland Diaries on December 5, 2013
There’s It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. And there’s this other holiday perennial about an actor who takes a job during the season as a department store elf. It’s a hilarious but scathing comic monologue about the modern approach to Christmas. Stars Jamie Morris who was recently at the venue in The Silence of the Clams and The Facts of Life.
Chistopher Kenney directed Jamie Morris.
Michelle F. Solomon wrote for Florida Theater On Stage:
While David Sedaris’ The SantaLand Diaries has its share of funny, when his script stoops low for laughs, he dashes all the other precious gifts he doles out in this very inventive one-person show. Yet there are reasons to see Empire Stage’s production of the adult-tinged, bah-humbug holiday theater tradition.
…yes, Diaries has laugh-out-loud moments. In fact, one woman in Thursday night’s audience seated in front of me was so hysterical I feared she’d need a straight jacket. Contributing to this was the free wine Empire Stage has made part of their cheer (only a donation is required for the vino). Diaries is probably funnier if you have a buzz on.
Morris is a crowd pleaser and the actor commands the audience with his own doses of small asides. A few technical glitches on opening night were handled with just the right tip of the hat by Morris – not overdone, but just enough to acknowledge the slight bumps.  …his best moments were when he was interacting with the crowd (he was spot on in his selection of those he wanted to incorporate into the proceedings…)
Morris keeps his Crumpet light, which is a breath of fresh air since this could turn into a 70-minute bitchfest if not handled with a bit of levity. But like any piece of theater an audience invests in, there should be a reason to rally with Crumpet. In the end, the elf has a small epiphany about the meaning of Christmas, yet in this Diaries, the warm and fuzzy remains unwrapped.
Overall, audiences will find seasonal chuckles in Diaries (I base this on the woman who needed the straight jacket). Empire Stage’s The SantaLand Diaries isn’t all coal, it’s just more of a re-gift.
Kathryn Ryan reviewed for Edge Miami:
There is something delicious about watching a performer who absolutely loves what he is doing. Relishing every word down to the last crumb, actor Jamie Morris conspicuously consumes Davis Sedaris’ script, The Santaland Diaries bite by bite and moment by moment. Each adventure he recounts about the nightmare of being an elf at Macy’s, ushering families through Santa land on the way to see the great man, is funnier than the next.
This is a Christmas feast to rival the spread Ebenezer Scrooge brought to Tiny Tim’s family on Christmas day. It will leave you begging "Please sir, I want some more."
The Santaland Diaries plays at Empire Stage through December 22, 2013.

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