Once in a while, you do something that you enjoy so much, you want to do it again, even if it is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. This is how it is for Brewster, who will be making an appearance as Crumpet the Elf again this holiday season on the SAAC stage. “This is the most fun character I have ever played,” he said about the part. “There is a good bit of pressure when you have 30 pages of text to memorize and deliver.” Brewster had absolute creative license from SAAC to be able to develop the character however he wanted. “I had a blast playing around with the character. I listened to some of Sedaris’ other stuff to understand where he was coming from with Crumpet. “
For a deliriously funny adult night out during the holidays, join the SAAC for The Santaland Diaries on stage in the Callaway Theater. Thomas Brewster, as Crumpet the Elf, will entertain you with this “delightfully cynical” one man show. A hilarious one act play, the script celebrates the desperation of unemployment, the insanity of Christmas shopping, and the ineffable “cheer” of the holiday spirit. The Santaland Diaries is a sarcastic, deliciously cynical way for adults to celebrate the holidays.
Brewster’s character, Crumpet, is a bit of a “Christmas Curmudgeon”, being down on his luck and having to resort to taking a job as an elf at Santaland; not his cup of tea, so to speak, and he lets everyone around him know he is not thrilled about being there. “Everything during the holidays is all saccharine and sweet and mushy- and with this show, you get ‘misanthropic cynicism’. It is a pleasant break from the typical holiday fare,” said Brewster about the play. No demographic group is safe from Crumpet’s tirades- he has a bad feeling about everyone and everything having to do with Christmas, and his stories of his interactions with store customers and other employees is classic ‘Bah Humbug’. Brewster himself actually spent a couple of holiday seasons working in retail and feels this show is “definitely relatable.”
SAAC will offer two different ways to see the show. Doors will open at 6:30pm for “A Toast With The Elf Himself”, a preshow backstage party before the production begins. This ticket will be $20. Or you may purchase a ticket for the show only for $10, which begins at 7:30pm.
With most plays and movies, music is a large part of creating the ‘feel’ of the piece. In Santaland Diaries, the music is mainly in the background, but the audience will recognize it and see how it sets the tone of the holiday show. Shelton Harden, who will running the music during the show said “Viewers will thrill to Booker T. and the MGs famous rendition of ‘Santa Claus is Coming To Town’, ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ by The Platters, ‘Santa Baby’ and some classic Frank Sinatra thrown in for good measure. And, of course, everyone will recognize Vince Guaraldi’s famous ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ There’s even a ‘Billie Holiday-esque’ rendition of ‘Away In A Manger’.
Brewster is excited to recreate Crumpet for the SAAC audience. He is a fan of writer Sedaris’ sarcastic tone and he “wanted to create a character that he’d be proud of. It pushed me to do something I thought he’d enjoy seeing.” A familiar face on the SAAC stage, Brewster has been seen in many holiday and summer productions over the years including A Christmas Story, A 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and Willy Wonka.
ABOUT THE SCRIPT
You might not expect “Santa’s Helper” to be a career-altering gig, but for David Sedaris, it changed everything. The writer and humorist spent a season working at Macy’s as a department store elf. He described his short tenure as Crumpet the Elf in The Santaland Diaries. Sedaris first read the essay on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on December 23, 1992. Instantly, a classic was born. Sedaris’ reading has become an NPR holiday tradition.
The piece was well-received, and provided Sedaris with his first major break. Sedaris later published the essay in the collections Barrel Fever (1994) and Holidays on Ice (1997). A much longer version of the piece first aired on December 20, 1996 on the Public Radio International program “This American Life.” In 1996, Joe Mantello adapted Sedaris’ essay for the stage as a one-man, one-act play, which debuted (as The Santaland Diaries) at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York on November 7, 1996. Timothy Olyphant originated the role. Mantello’s adaptation has since become a seasonal staple of regional, college and high-school theatre. The Santaland Diaries drew David’s writing to the attention of America and the world.
David Sedaris wasn’t always an award-winning writer and satirist. For two consecutive Christmases in the early 1990s, he was a Christmas elf at Santaland in the famous New York department store, Macy’s. These are hilarious extracts from his diaries at the time. “My costume is green. I wear moss-colored velvet breeches, an emerald smock, and a stocking cap decorated with spangles. This is my work uniform. My elf name is Crumpet, and I was allowed to choose it myself, which is something.” Crumpet, the little elf in the perky green cap, is re-born – and you’ll never hear Billie Holiday in the same way ever again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Raymond Sedaris (born December 26, 1956) is an American humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor. He was publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay “SantaLand Diaries”. He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. His next five essay collections, Naked (1997), Holidays on Ice (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004), and When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008), became New York Times Best Sellers. In 2010, he released a collection of stories, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. In 2013, Sedaris released his latest collection of essays, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.
Much of Sedaris’ humor is ostensibly autobiographical and self-deprecating, and often concerns his family life, his middle-class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina. Sedaris is also a playwright, having written with his sister, actress Amy Sedaris, several plays under the name “The Talent Family”. These include Stump the Host (1993), Stitches (1994), and The Little Frieda Mysteries (1997). All were produced and presented by Meryl Vladimer when she was the artistic director of “the CLUB” at La MaMa, E.T.C., and The Book of Liz (2002) was produced by Ania A. Shapiro.
Sedaris also co-authored Incident at Cobbler’s Knob, presented and produced by David Rockwell at the Lincoln Center Festival. Sedaris and his sister Amy shared “The Talent Family” credit on the latter’s short-lived sketch comedy show Exit 57, while David was a contributing writer.
Sedaris currently lives in the Horsham District of West Sussex, England, with his longtime partner Hugh Hamrick, whom Sedaris mentions in a number of his stories. Sedaris describes them as the “sort of couple who wouldn’t get married”. He enjoys collecting litter in the local area, where he is known as “Pig Pen”, and has a garbage truck named after him.