On the naughty list: Shippensburg University theatre department to produce ‘The SantaLand Diaries’
By AMBER SOUTH
Ever wonder what those department store elves experience on the job?
Shippensburg University’s theatre department will produce “The SantaLand Diaries,” a tale about a man’s time portraying an elf at Macy’s in New York City. Show times are 8 p.m. Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 and 2 p.m. Dec. 2 in Memorial Auditorium on the university campus.
The 90-minute production will be nothing like typical holiday performances, said Paris Peet, director. A one-man show, it will feature SU senior Ethan Goldbach in the only role, as the sarcastic elf Crumpet.
The story began as an essay written by David Sedaris about his experience working as a Macy’s department store elf. He read the piece on several radio shows in 1992, leading to a surge in popularity and eventually a performance adaptation in 1996 by actor/director Joe Mantello.
“My favorite part is the (group of) sub-characters that Crumpet talks about in his stories — Santas, elves, customers and people involved in SantaLand — and I just enjoy being Crumpet making fun of those people,” Goldbach said.
Parents should be cautioned; while the show stars an elf, takes place in SantaLand and features an in-house snowfall, overall it is not appropriate for children under age 13.
“It’s not family entertainment for the young kids,” Peet said. “If you know Sedaris’ writing, he can be a little witty and clever. There’s a wee bit of naughty language.”
As the lone performer, Goldbach can expect some pressure during the show’s run.
“At first it was definitely intimidating having an entire script, but (the director, Paris Peet) has been working with me to figure out a way to adapt the script so it wouldn’t be such a heavy work load,” Goldbach said. “Now instead of doing a regular stage production, it’s a staged reading where we have a script on the stage and it’s part of the show.”
But Peet has no doubts that Goldbach will pull off Sedaris’ Crumpet character. In fact, it was Goldbach that inspired Peet to pull “The SantaLand Diaries” out of his head.
“I’ve had this piece sort of on the back burner and was thinking yeah, yeah. Then when Ethan came along I thought this would be a really terrific piece for him because it really is a great showcase for a certain kind of performer,” Peet said.
The play will be produced in a more intimate setting in which audience members will be on three sides of the performance, Peet explained. With this up-close action, Goldbach expects to really feed off each audience.
“They really can’t escape from me, so I am excited to make my puppets dance on the stage.
“I think I’m just mostly excited to feel each crowd out, because they’re all different I feel and the show will definitely evolve depending on their reactions,” he said.
As far as Peet could recall, this will be the first one-man show produced by the theatre department. He hopes to make it the first in a long tradition and make it a performance, if not every year, every other year.
“Ethan will be long gone but it will be interesting to see other people move into the role we have all this work put in (to),” Peet said.
Goldbach is front and center, but a number of individuals have worked to bring “The SantaLand Diaries” to life at SU. Working behind the scenes are senior Benjamin Balutis on scenic design; senior Tyler Graybeal on lighting and sound design; and freshmen Trevor Taylor, Vanessa Ruffo and Sara Bugh on other jobs.
Tickets are $12 at the door, or $10 in advance at http://ship.ticketleap.com.
SHAPE Gallery to host SantaLand Soiree
Shippensburg Arts Programming and Education (SHAPE) invites the community to attend a Santaland Soiree 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30. Guests will enjoy a visit to the gallery at 20 West King St., while sampling hors d’oeuvres prepared by local restaurant Knute’s Pub and Grill and a sampling of wine, beer and refreshing drinks.
Partnering again with Shippensburg University’s Theatre Department, SHAPE is excited to host a special reception to promote their production of “The Santaland Diaries.”
A limited number of tickets are available for this special event. To reserve your tickets, $20, contact SHAPE at 532-2559 or email Tom Crochunis at firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 25. Tickets include admission to “The SantaLand Diaries.”
SHAPE Gallery hosts the first part of this special evening. Participants will have an opportunity to view the current “Give the Gift of Art” holiday exhibit at the gallery, gather with other patrons of the arts, and enjoy food and drink. Then, all will make their way to Memorial Auditorium on the Shippensburg University campus for the 8 pm performance of “The Santaland Diaries.”
The meal will be catered by Knute’s Pub and Grill, and features pumpkin brandy soup, poached pear, cranberry and bleu cheese salad, pork roast stuffed with apricots and pistachios or sweet and sour pork, mushroom risotto, pumpkin and ginger snap parfaits and assorted Christmas cookies.
Amber South can be reached at email@example.com and 262-4771.