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The Santaland Diaries (2004)

a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by David Sedaris

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 1125

SHOWING : December 03, 2004 - January 02, 2005

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

“A fiendishly exhilarating, politically incorrect send-up of the holidays.”-Creative Loafing

Horizon reprises the outrageous holiday hit comedy written by NPR comic genius David Sedaris. Harold M. Leaver stars as Crumpet, the ultimate merry misanthrope. This rebel without a Claus recounts the true-life tale of his stint as a Macy's Department Store elf. Also starring Jill Hames and Topher Payne.


CAST & CREW LIST
Cast Clint Thornton
Lighting Designer Amy Humes Lee
Costume Designer Jessica Leamarie McDill
Cast Jill Hames
Crumpet Harold M. Leaver
Cast Topher Payne
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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A Cynic's Delight
by Dedalus
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
5.0
For the Umpteenth year, Horizon is presenting Harold M. Leaver as Crumpet, the Macy’s Elf in David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries.” This was my first visit, and I must say, I had a laugh-out-loud, incredibly good time.

Written as a monologue, Horizon makes the excellent choice of adding two Protean Character actors, Jill Hames and Topher Payne, to take on a plethora of one-note roles to support Mr. Leaver’s Crumpet. The penchant for schtick that sometimes undercuts Ms. Hames more complete roles, is here the perfect device to quickly present character, nuance, and laughter, all with the same over-the-top gesture or expression. Mr. Payne, likewise, has enormous fun with the wide range of stuff demanded of him.

But it’s Harold Leaver who really sells this show. On stage for the entire 90 minutes of the play, he must interact with the audience, with his costars (who, more often than not, lose in a silent scene-stealing battle of upstaging schtick), and with the witty words Mr. Sedaris has put in his mouth. Sedaris is famous for his short pieces of whimsy, designed to celebrate eccentricity, finding humor in the darkest of places (a reading of this play's companion piece, "Season’s Greetings,” will show just how dark he can get), but ultimately, making us like the characters he so thoroughly skewers. Crumpet and his story fully embodies every irritation we experience during the Holidays, without losing the sense of fun that compels even the most irreligious of us to celebrate it. There is even a moment at the end that threatens (almost) to fall into the sentimentality that overwhelms most Christmas Theatre fare, reminding us that even this has its place (if not for too long).

Yes, this show is a Christmas cynic’s delight. It is also filled with a good will towards its characters that so many pundits seem to be losing this year. (I'd like to know when anger and bitterness towards someone wishing you a "Happy Holiday" became part of "Good Will Towards Men" -- but I digress). This is the last weekend (this year), and I strongly urge you to visit (or revisit) Crumpet before it’s too late.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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Another year of fun ahead!
by KristieKrabe
Saturday, December 4, 2004
4.0
David Sedaris' comedy is a bit like ginger - spicy, sometimes bitter, and not everyone's favorite. But, if you add a bit of sugar, spice and some frosting, it can turn into a treat that almost everyone enjoys. Such is Horizon Theatre's Santaland Diaries.

I have been a fan of Sedaris' humor for sometime now, and I have always wanted to see this production, but it was always sold out. But last Thursday I got to see the preview of the show (and for free too! Thanks!) Now in it's what is it's 93rd year at Horizon - okay, I am exaggerating, but the fact that this is Harold Leaver's umpteenth time in tights as "Crumpet" is one of the reasons this show is so damn funny - is the hilarious story of David Sedaris and his stint as a Macy's Christmas Elf.

The show ranges from downright hilarious to sweet reflection, and the cast of 3 (Leaver, Jill Hames and Topher Payne) give a non-stop whirlwind account of the experience. Leaver seems so comfortable on the stage, and is a quick wit and improviser. His reaction to a flubbed sound cue was so hysterical, that I wondered if the mistake wasn't intentional. Topher Payne gets a work out in this show - I would swear that Horizon has some top secret Star Trek beam me up thing that allows him to exit stage left and instantly appear stage right in a completely different costume. And Jill Hames almost steals the show with her hysterical facial expressions and character voices. And the cast's use of random props was bizarre. I mean that in a good way. It was as if Clint Thornton went crazy in the Horizon Prop room and thought, how can I work THIS into the show?

If I had to complain about one thing, and one thing only, it would have to be that I didn't love the attempt to throw current events humor into the script. The material is funny on it's own merit. That, and I did feel that sometimes Leaver did stray from Sedaris' recount of the story - particularly in the impression of Billie Holiday (Sedaris wanted to be a ad jingle singer in his youth and he wanted to sing them all as Billie Holiday - he does a brilliant impersonation. If you ever get the chance to hear him read his essays - do.) He poked a bit too much fun at her, I think. Okay, so that was two things.

But, all in all, this is a great little starter to an evening out on the town for the holidays - the show is only around 1 1/2 hours, so you have plenty of time to go out and get your egg nog on.

And since I mentioned Gingerbread Cookies, Boozy, this one's for you....

Gingerbread Men

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup dark molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sugar icing, optional, recipe follows

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer cream the butter, add the sugar, and beat the mixture until fluffy. Beat in the egg, the molasses, and the vinegar.
Into another bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt and stir the mixture into the butter mixture, a little at a time. The dough will be soft. Divide the dough into fourths, dust it with flour, and wrap each piece in waxed paper. Flatten the dough slightly and chill it for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Roll out the dough, 1 piece at a time, 1/4-inch thick on a floured surface and cut out cookies with a 4-inch gingerbread man cutter dipped in flour.

(To keep in true Sedaris form, you may want to remove a limb or the head off the cookie here).

Transfer the cookies with a spatula to buttered baking sheets, arranging them 2-inches apart, and bake them in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until no imprint remains when they are touched lightly with the fingertip. Transfer the cookies with the spatula to racks and let them cool. Make cookies with the dough scraps in the same manner. If desired, pipe the sugar icing decoratively on the cookie using a pastry bag fitted with a small decorative tip. Let the cookies stand for 20 minutes, or until the icing is set.

Sugar Icing:
2 large egg whites*
1 pinch cream of tartar
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Food coloring, optional

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, a pinch of salt, and 2 teaspoons water until the mixture is frothy, beat in the sugar, a little at a time, and beat the mixture until it holds stiff peaks. Beat in the food coloring, if desired.
Decorate baked cookies with the icing using a spatula or a pastry bag fitted with s small decorative tip and let the cookies stand for 20 minutes, or until the icing is set.
Yield: enough icing for about 50 (4-inch) cookies
*RAW EGG WARNING The American Egg Board states: "There have been warnings against consuming raw or lightly cooked eggs on the grounds that the egg may be contaminated with Salmonella, a bacteria responsible for a type of foodborne illness... Healthy people need to remember that there is a very small risk and treat eggs and other raw animal foods accordingly. Use only properly refrigerated, clean, sound-shelled, fresh, grade AA or A eggs. Avoid mixing yolks and whites with the shell." You have been warned...

-KK

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