Since David Sedaris first read The Santaland Diaries on National Public Radio in 1992, the piece has become a part of many holiday traditions. With that in mind, it was inevitable that it would show up as a bit of counter-holiday programming in theaters (in an adaptation by Joe Mantello) as well. This season, Frank Theatre presents the piece for the second consecutive year, moving to the Minneapolis Woman's Club for the current run.
"The show was enormously popular last year, so we thought, 'Why not do it again?'" says Frank founder and director Wendy Knox. "Joe Leary, who plays Crumpet, had a great time performing the show, and he was up for it again. So we thought we would see if audiences were up for it as well."
In the story, Sedaris recounts his time as a Macy's elf, recounting a sort-of holiday hell full of scheming coworkers, screaming children, and a complete lack of true Christmas cheer.
The show marks a bit of a change of pace for Frank -- they just closed the searing and blood-soaked Ajax in Iraq this week -- but fits in well as alternative holiday entertainment. The show "is hysterically funny, and smart, and biting, which counteracts the abundance of treacle at this time of year," Knox says.
Sedaris is a popular author in the Twin Cities, and The Santaland Diaries features many of his best talents.
"I think he skewers the notion of forced joy by showing the messiness that lurks below the shared common myth that we all should be happy at this time of year. His revelation of family dynamics, public behavior, and just plain weirdness that lurk everywhere -- especially at this time of year -- are spot on and screamingly funny. The honesty is perhaps what makes it even more funny. And his perspective on how messed up the holidays can be is perhaps a great relief to many," she says.
As last year's venue was unavailable (it's now the new home of Brave New Workshop), Frank moved to the Woman's Club. "In many ways, the show is more beautiful than last year. The Woman's Club has a beautiful, old proscenium stage. The scenery is gorgeous this year. We're in a bigger space with a different orientation, so Steve Rohde, the set designer, had to work his magic. After yards of red velour, and a few more Christmas decorations, he created a gorgeous new set for the show," Knox says.
The change in the stage also affects Leary's performance, as the orientation of the actor to the audience is quite different. Knox is confident that the actor will quickly adjust. "He's really smart. He's really funny and can be bitingly so," she adds about his performance.
IF YOU GO:
The Santaland Diaries
Through December 30
The Woman's Club Assembly Theater 407 W. 15th St., Minneapolis