SACRED FOOLS | MAINSTAGE 2001 - The Sacred Fools Holiday Show 2001


"Enchanting...An exquisite ensemble!"

"...A tasty little arsenic cookie!"

The Sacred Fools Holiday Show
Two Holiday One-Acts...
Directed by David P. Moore


One Family, One Night, Ninety Years...
The Long Christmas Dinner
By Thornton Wilder

Blythe Baten, Barbara Kerr Condon
Andrew Friedman, Richard Gustafson
David Holcomb, Beth Kirkpatrick
 Scott Paetty and Deena Rubinson


One Guy, One Elf,
 One Hell of a Christmas Season...

The Santaland Diaries
By David Sedaris
Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
Featuring: Andrew Friedman


Blythe Batten &
Scott Paetty

On the Sacred Fools Mainstage...
Thursday, Friday, Saturday @ 8pm
Sunday @ 7pm
December 6 - 22, 2001

Tickets: $15
Reservations: (310) 281-8337
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Andrew Friedman

Produced by Desi Doyen and Ho-Kwan Tse
Lighting Design - Brian Fletcher
Set Design - David P. Moore
Costume Design - Mary Hayes
Sound Design - Veronika Vorel
Graphic Design - Brad Friedman
Stage Manager - Sondra Mayer



LA Weekly (Recommended!)

Regarding the two plays on the bill (directed by David P. Moore), while one is overstuffed and the other a little lean, they’re both fulfilling holiday treats. Humorist David Sedaris’ NPR commentary is adapted by Joe Mantello as The Santaland Diaries, a witty one-person show about Sedaris’ stint as a Macy’s Department Store elf. A rumpled Andrew Fried man recounts the journey of the hapless elf Crumpet — Sedaris’ nom d’elf — who must contend with puking kids, pushy parents and neurotic Santas. Moore’s enchanting staging and production effects (most especially Brian Fletcher’s lighting), combined with Friedman’s droll performance, all salvage Man tello’s excessive script and abruptly anticlimactic ending. Thornton Wilder recounts 90 years in the life of the affluent Midwestern Bayard family in his bittersweet The Long Christmas Dinner. Wilder introduces us to the Bayards at a late-19th-century holiday feast, then has family members politely excuse themselves, as they head for the proverbial tunnel of death. An exquisite ensemble portrays multiple roles under Moore’s understated direction and fleshes out Wilder’s sketchy characters — Scott Paetty’s pompous Charles; Blythe Baten as his stuffy wife; and Deena Rubinson as his spunky spinster sister stand out.

-- Martín Hernández


     Back in 1992, David Sedaris wrote and talked about working as a Macy's Christmas elf (name: Crumpet) on National Public Radio, which is reason enough to support National Public Radio ad infinitum. Director Joe Mantello adapted the diary entries for the stage. In recent years, "The SantaLand Diaries" has popped up more frequently around the holidays.
     It is getting a nice airing at the moment at Sacred Fools, courtesy of Andrew Freidman's Crumpet, as one half of a seasonal double bill. The other half is Thornton Wilder's "The Long Christmas Dinner." And the two writers' sensibilities make sense together on the same stage.
     Wilder's 1931 one-act telescopes several generations of Christmas dinners at one family's table, so that characters are born, live and die in the time it takes to pass the cranberries. Its central point relates to Wilder's later "Our Town." Life goes by with ruthless haste, even when it doesn't; we are all, to some extent, blind, passing through our rituals and relationships like tourists. How to become, in the best sense, natives of our own lives?
     Wilder's viewpoint isn't radical, but the form of "The Long Christmas Dinner" fascinates still. Sedaris' form isn't anything special, but his viewpoint--hilariously sour and whiny, in an observant way--makes the piece a tasty little arsenic cookie.
     Sedaris and Wilder acknowledge the tough aspects of Christmas. Working in Macy's SantaLand, nursing a crush on a good-looking colleague, Crumpet sees his share of miserable, misery-inducing parents on the job. "SantaLand Diaries" is a rebuke to lousy parents everywhere and grinding commercialism in all forms. Wilder takes the rueful long view.
     David P. Moore directs both one-acts for Sacred Fools, and though the scenic design is awfully drab, the stagings are light-handed and clever. Freidman's elf gets an assist from various prop-carrying auxiliary elves and, valuably, Freidman doesn't oversell "SantaLand" or try to turn it into stand-up comedy.
     Overall the Wilder piece fares less well, with some cast members harrumphing and play-acting their way through various stages of old age. But Blythe Baten's Leonora and Barbara Kerr Condon's Mother Bayard (and later, Ermengarde) keep their scenes honest and sharp.

-- Michael Phillips