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Review: The SantaLand Diaries

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Everyone remembers their first visit with Santa and his elves. There may have been thousands of little children Santa saw within the weeks leading up to his big day. Many may shutter at the thought of what it must have been like to be Santa and his elves, working endless hours with crying children, bossy parents, and blinding camera flashes. It isn't a pretty job, but someone has to do it.

Who are these serene Santas, these even-tempered elves? This Christmas season, laugh along with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's The SantaLand Diaries, starring Denver's own Matt Zambrano, as he illuminates the life and times of a department store elf. Crumpet (Matt Zambrano) will make you laugh out loud as you learn just what it takes to work and survive the holiday season as an underpaid, unappreciated elf.

Zambrano pairs perfect comedic timing and energy with underlying tones of sarcasm and shrewdness while wearing green velvet, festive tights, and a jingle bell hat. Just when you think you cannot laugh anymore or cry at how terrible it really must be to endure the Christmas season as Santa's little helper, Crumpet the Elf takes us to the dark side just for a moment to imagine devilish anarchy in SantaLand.

At the heart of this story, beyond the jokes and lightheartedness, is something much more important; Matt Zambrano pauses for a few moments within the performance to reflect on his character's sincere observations of the human heart - the good, the bad, and even the ugly.

After the show, I spoke with Mr. Zambrano about the masked theme of his performance, love, compassion, and the importance of good parenting. I loved the layered dynamic of his comedy and empathy. The SantaLand Diaries will make you want to share your own Santa memories with your friends and family. Bust out those Santa North Pole pictures! Not only does Zambrano make you laugh until it hurts, but he also touches our emotional core, reminding us to truly love one another.

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