BWW Reviews: The Alley Theatre's THE SANTALAND DIARIES Delivers a Hearty Dose of Holiday Humor

Todd Waite as Crumpet in The Santaland Diaries.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and while the hustle and bustle of the season is in full force, the Alley Theatre is presenting Houston audiences with the ultimate holiday treat. Back by popular demand, David Sedaris' cult Christmas classic THE SANTALAND DIARIES, adapted for stage by Joe Mantello, continues to delight with a hearty dose of humor and sardonic wit. The one-man play leaves the audience in stitches as they follow Crumpet the Elf, who turns the magic of the iconic Macy's Santaland at Manhattan's Herald Square on its very head.

Direction by David Cromer is pristinely ebullient and highlights the almost manic nature that comes about as Christmas draws closer. He successfully creates a production that is easily enjoyed from all four sides of the round, guaranteeing that every moment of humor is felt throughout the Neuhaus stage. Furthermore, direction by David Cromer effectively moves the production along, ensuring that the one hour show flies by and leaves the audience laughing the entire time.

Reprising his role as Crumpet the Elf, Todd Waite is positively charismatic and quirky. He plays the role with a biting sassiness and masterfully imbues the satirical humor of a man who is just trying to survive his stint as an elf-for-pay. He is easily captivating, and he successfully engages the audience for the duration of the performance as he takes them on a journey from the hiring process to the evening before Christmas. Todd Waite delivers his lines with a flawless precision and elicits a continuous stream of laughter through his charming offering of social commentary. His interaction with the audience and fleeting references to current popular culture, such as the Mayor of Toronto, simply produces an evening of over-the-top fun.

The design team of THE SANTALAND DIARIES effectively caters to the festive fervor of the production. Scenic Design by Karin Rabe creatively utilizes each corner of the theatre as a holiday setting that is typical of what you would see in a storefront window, successfully immersing the viewer in Crumpet's world. Blair Gulledge's Costume Design is a true holiday treat, capturing all of the ostentatious elements that one would expect in an elf costume. Lighting Design by Kevin Rigdon is bright and fluid, following Crumpet throughout the production. Pierre Dupree's clever Sound Design is reminiscent of the Christmastime atmosphere right up to the sounds of slightly irritated Macy's employees over the store intercom.

THE SANTALAND DIARIES is the perfect show for anyone looking for a good laugh this season. It has proven to be a holiday favorite here in the Houston area, attracting new and returning viewers. Lasting approximately an hour and guaranteed to keep you in stitches, this satirical production is simply too good to miss.

THE SANTALAND DIARIES runs on the Neuhaus Stage until December 31, 2013. The show is recommended for mature audiences due to language and subject matter. For more information and tickets, please visit or call (713) 220 - 5700.

Photos by Jann Whaley. Photos courtesy of the Alley Theatre.

high res photos

Todd Waite as Crumpet in The Santaland Diaries.

Todd Waite as Crumpet in The Santaland Diaries.

Todd Waite as Crumpet in The Santaland Diaries.

Todd Waite as Crumpet in The Santaland Diaries.

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Kristina Nungaray Kristina is a graduate from Sam Houston State University with a passion for theatre and the arts. As a lover of the written word, she aspires to finish her first novel and complete a graduate degree in Creative Writing. As a Psychology and Women's Studies scholar, she hopes to serve as a mentor for young girls.

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