By Beki Pineda
THE SANTALAND DIARIES – Written by David Sedaris; Directed by Stephen Weitz. Produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (performed at the Jones Theater at the Denver Center, Speer and Arapahoe, Denver) through December 27, 2017. Tickets available at 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org.
As part of the Off Center Productions program at the Denver Center, BETC brings Michael Bouchard back to the Jones Theater for his popular turn as one of Santa’s elves at the Macy’s New York Santaland. Portraying an actor struggling to make it in the Big Apple, he finds himself not only auditioning for this gig, but fearful that he won’t make the cut. He takes us through the experience step by step: the Elf training, the awarding of an Elf name, the first day in his Elf costume, the differences between Santas, the antics of his fellow Elves and his dealings with the kids that come through his line. He also shares what he learned through the experience.
Michael brings his own impish personality to the role using whimsy and cynicism in equal measure to explore all of the humor in the script. Michael is, of course, tied to the script as written; but, for some reason, some parts of the script seemed a little more mean-spirited than it has in the past. Maybe it is personal enlightenment in a changing social environment or, more likely, a sense of discomfort at the references to the mentally disabled with the knowledge that there were people in the audience that night that fell into that category. One could hope that the script could be updated next year with a more modern sensitivity. Some of what was deemed funny in 1992, when this was written, no longer amuses in the same way.
While it is a one-man show, Michael is ably assisted by the light and sound crew who highlight his dialogue with special effects. Fast becoming a Christmas classic, THE SANTALAND DIARIES provides a more subtle tale of redemption that its co-production at the Denver Center – A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Take the kids to see the big show and then take another night for Mom and Dad to enjoy a little adult Christmas joy.
A WOW factor of 8.5