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'Santaland Diaries' unveils disgruntled elf's observation of holiday experiences

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Santaland Diaries

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For a fun theater outing, Santaland Diaries now playing in downtown Kansas City offers attendees a look at the life of one of Santa’s elves, Crumpet, during the holiday season leading up to Christmas at the storied Macy’s Department Store in New York City.

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Who knew the life of an elf could be so problematic? David Sedaris’ one-man play features an adult take on an a seasonal worker at Macy’s.

Crumpet, articulately brought to life by Brian Sills, divulges daily updates on how he came from unemployed to exasperated elf in the short span of a few months. Sills’ dialogue, attitude, and delivery elicit laughs from the audience. The adventure results from unemployment and short funds. So, to rectify the problem, the “help wanted” newspaper section beckons to cure his situation. There, the main character sees an advertisement and applies for a job as one of Santa’s elves. The audience hears how the entire process begins for the transformation into Crumpet.

Sills portrays Crumpet with tongue-in-cheek delivery. He’s believable, funny, and endearing to the audience. From the moment he appears with his want ads through his final exit, he’s developing Crumpet’s attitude and preparing the audience for a memorable theatrical experience. He is a joy to watch.

Even though the title sounds like something a child would enjoy, a few outbursts of strong language mean that the play is not intended for tender ears or person’s who are easily offended. The show certainly does not mirror KC Rep’s other Christmas presentation, A Christmas Carol. Santaland Diaries is directed by Jerry Genochio for the KC Rep.

For about an hour, Sills delivers the humorous tale of the disgruntled, but likeable elf. Crumpet describes the people he sees with pinpoint accuracy, in such a way as to paint a picture of them. Most who remember the days of a “real” downtown Kansas City, with Macy’s Jones, Kline’s, Emery Byrd Thayer, Woolf Brothers and more can relate to many of the person’s he describes. But, Crumpet is modern-day and digital cameras, video, and cell phones have upped the stress and demands of the elfin society.

As his story unfolds, Crumpet explains the different types of Santa Claus personalities, depending upon who actually portrays the jolly old elf. What’s refreshing is that none of the humor comes from depicting “disturbed” or “off-center” Santas. The humor comes from Crumpet’s unique observations and humorous situations.

As an added bonus to the festive spirit and to introduce the one man show, Santaland Diaries, the KC Rep added a novelty act, The Shenanigans, a duet of multi instrument-playing musicians. They help establish the mood by performing some non-classic Christmas songs. They warm the crowd with some audience participation work, sing some “questionable” lyrics, and prepare the audience for an adult show.

Claybourne Elder & Shanna Jones as The Shenanigans, clad in some type of Alpine garb certainly stand apart from normal man on the street musicians. They fit well into the holiday theme with lederhosen, alpine dress, and different instruments. Expect to laugh a lot as the perform per and post show mini-concerts.

Santaland Diaries cannot help but bring smiles and laughs for everyone. The show is recommended for high school and older.

For a fun 90-minute theater experience, apart from kids, plan to attend KC Rep’s Santaland Diaries, playing in downtown Kansas City at the Copaken Stage in the H & R Block building between Main and Walnut Streets. For ticket information, times, and dates: kcrep.org

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