The SantaLand Diaries

(Editor's note: The following review was first published in December, 2002. In 2003, Gary Culig once again stars in the remounting of this seasonal classic. This year's production is directed by Luanne Nunes de Char. Ashley Vinson, Donna Morrison, and Alex Weimer appear as Blue Fairy, Santa's Helper and Jingles. This year's show is a bit edgier, and more suggestive, but filled with the same barrel of laughs.)

Not far from where American patriots once proclaimed, "Live Free or Die!", patriotic consumers now cry, "Shop 'til We Drop!" In the Bug Theatre Company's annual seasonal comedy, The SantaLand Diaries, we are secreted into the inner sanctum of this new breed of freedom fighters as they celebrate their holy feeding frenzy at Macy's Department Store and make their sacred pilgrammage to the throne of Santa Claus.

Gary Culig as David, aka Crumpet
Local favorite Gary Culig returns for the fourth year as David, also known as Crumpet the elf, in this kiss-and-tell story of NPR host David Sedaris' stint as a disgruntled elf for the big guy—Jolly St. Nick.

Director Donna Morrison has Culig seize the reindeer by the horns right from the git go, and he doesn't let up. Talking to the audience intimately, like old friends, Culig ignites Sedaris' fireside radio tale into a non-stop laugh conflagration. This is no exaggeration: I can recall only two brief periods when someone in the audience wasn't laughing, and that includes the set-up for what at the time appears to be an out-of-character moral climax to this insider's tale of candy canes and commercial excess.

Photo of Gary Culig as Crumpet, the fireside elf
Gary Culig as Crumpet,
the fireside elf
In-between episodic sketches of the job interview, cheerleaders for Santa, the security check, puking over-stimulated children, and screaming control freaks with camcorders, we're serenaded with Yuletime classics from Patti Page, Elvis, June Christy, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, and Burl Ives.

Feloniz Lovato-Winston and Alex Weimer contribute to the general mayhem in Cheryl Bailey's clever costumes as Suzie Snowflake and Surley, and a host of other bizarre characters that inhabit the playwright's candy-striped, holly-decked, blinkin' nightmare (inspired set by Alex Weimer).

Don't miss it! The Bug Theatre Company's production of The SantaLand Diaries runs through December 28th. 303-477-9984.

Bob Bows


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