Turns out that being surrounded by kids and tinsel and merriment is not all that fun, or at least it wasn't for him. Fortunately for us though, Sedaris wrote about his experience in somewhat fanciful stories called the "Santaland Diaries. This is my work uniform. You can be an entrance elf, a water cooler elf, a bridge elf, train elf, maze elf, island elf, magic window elf, usher elf, cash register elf or exit elf. We were given a demonstration of various positions and action, acted out by returning elves who were so onstage and goofy that it made me a little sick to my stomach.
I don't know that I can look anyone in the eye and exclaim, oh, my goodness, I think I see Santa or, can you close your eyes and make a very special Christmas wish? Everything these elves say seems to have an exclamation point on the end of it. It makes one's mouth hurt to speak with such forced merriment. It embarrasses me to hear people talk this way. I think I'll be a low key sort of elf.
The Santaland Diaries
Twenty-two thousand people came to see Santa today, and not all of them were well-behaved. Today I witnessed fistfights and vomiting and magnificent tantrums. The back hallway was jammed with people. There was a line for Santa and a line for the women's bathroom. And one woman, after asking me a thousand questions already, asked which is the line for the women's bathroom?
And I shouted that I thought it was the line with all the women in it.
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And she said, I'm going to have you fired. I had two people say that to me today - I'm going to have you fired. Go ahead, be my guest. I'm wearing a green velvet costume.
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It doesn't get any worse than this. Who do these people think they are? I'm going to have you fired. And I want to lean over and say, I'm going to have you killed. His elf name is Snowball and tends to ham it up with the children, sometimes tumbling down the path to Santa's house.
I generally gag when elves get that cute but Snowball is hands-down adorable. The Opening Night audience went wild as Crowle transformed into Crumpet, which only heightened the moment as he went on to continue his tale in full costume. The production may be a one-man-show, but the audience almost becomes a second character, with Crowle feeding off their energy.
One such moment occurred when Crowle changed into his Crumpet costume, and the audience began to cheer and whistle at him. Rather than ignoring them, Crowle played along as the character who so deeply hates the situation in which he finds himself, throwing his snark right back at us, mocking us for our excitement. Moments like this helped create a more intimate setting for the story, making it feel as if we as the audience are in on the jokes and sharing the fun.
The training process on how to become the Elf occurs fairly early in the play, and Scott and Crowle find another moment to utilize the audience and draw them into the action. The Opening Night audience was fully invested, chanting along with him, feeding into the energy that helps push the joke over the top. No Christmas tale is complete without the main character learning a little something about himself, and The Santaland Diaries certainly does not fail in that regard. This writer does not want to give away the ending, but the story traverses through a range of emotions.
While this tale about Crumpet the Elf is full of dark humor and a certain negativity about the holidays, there are also moments of pure genuine honesty and hope, and this writer felt that Scott and Crowle masterfully traverse that terrain. This holiday season, Goodman Theatre presents The Santaland Diaries-David Sedaris' "vivid, hilarious portrait of family Christmas with his deft combination of wicked humor and scalpel-sharp observation" Chicago Magazine.
Adapted by Joe Mantello and directed by longtime Goodman Artistic Associate Steve Scott, this "theatrical stocking stuffer" Chicago Reader is perfect for those who prefer their eggnog spiked.
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Chicago favorite Matt Crowle makes his Goodman debut in a solo performance as the strapped-for-cash struggling actor who takes a job as "Crumpet," an elf at Macy's Santaland-and his hilarious observations are more naughty than nice. Show Type: Comedy. Goodman Theatre Seating Charts. Suggested Nearby Restaurant.
Chicago Tribune - Recommended. Matt Crowle is a terrific Crumpet in director Steve Scott's wry little production. He's less caustic than I remember Cromer being it's not hard to be less caustic than Cromer and more focused on likeability. He's also a bonafide musical-comedy talent every time I see him I think of Bert the chimney sweep in "Mary Poppins" and thus the show gets a welcome dose of that spirit, too.
He's just the sort of performer with whom it's fun to spend an hour - he's off-kilter enough credibly to inhabit a Sedaris text, but enough of a creature of the empathetic theater to win over your affection.
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It's a pleasure to see him, and laugh at him, in this role. Daily Herald - Highly Recommended. Directed with clear-eyed vigor by Scott, an artistic associate and retired Goodman producer, "The Santaland Diaries" ultimately suggests the holiday spirit can soften the edges of the most jaded soul. But not entirely. Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended. Actor Matt Crowle possesses an easygoing scruffy, yet impishly charming persona that plays like a best friend dishing hot gossip after work as he delivers a long string of anecdotes about the terrible behavior of ridiculous parents, crazed shoppers, and a less-than-ideal Santa Claus.
Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Recommended. Matt Crowle is the perfect naughty elf and will keep you entertained and laughing throughout the play. If you're looking for a fresh take on Christmas from another perspective of adult humor Let's Play 'Recommend' that you check out 'The Santaland Diaries' at Goodman Theatre, dare we say it, where a potty mouth is accepted on the throne of Santa!
Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended. No Elf on the Shelf, Mr. The Fourth Walsh - Recommended. PicksInSix - Highly Recommended. What you are not able to imagine, until you have settled into your seat at the Owen, is the inspired interpretation that Crowle brings to his jaded, frenetic and heartily endearing Crumpet that makes this a laugh-filled, impish joyride from destitute actor to persecuted full-time elf.