THE SANTALAND DIARIES Returns to TheatreWorks This Holiday Season
Back by popular demand, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents the holiday hit The Santaland Diaries, returning to the intimate 180-seat Lohman Theatre. Written by David Sedaris, this rollicking one-man cure for an overdose of holiday hype will have a limited three-week run in Los Altos Hills. Sedaris' international career as a memoirist took off when he recounted his short tenure at Macy's as Crumpet the Elf in an essay he first read on NPR's Morning Edition in 1992. Adapted by Joe Mantello, this perfect spike to the holiday punch shares the experience of an ill-equipped elf forced to confront child meltdowns, overbearing parents, and complacent Santas. Directed by Jeffrey Lo and starring Max Tachis as David/Crumpet, The Santaland Diaries will be presented December 5 - 23, 2018 (opening night: December 7) at the Lohman Theatre, 12345 S. El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. For tickets ($45) and more information the public may visit TheatreWorks.org or call (650) 463-1960.
Called "a holiday tradition" by NPR, SantaLand Diaries proved to be Sedaris' first major break, generating the most requests of any story on "Morning Edition," with the sole exception of the death of Baseball Hall of Fame announcer Red Barber. Tony Award winner Joe Mantello adapted the holiday reading into a stage production in 1996, and it debuted at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York City under the title The Santaland Diaries with the then-recent Theatre World Award winner Timothy Olyphant originating the sadistic department store elf. Hailed as "worth more than a photo album full of Santas" by New York's Newsday and "a delightfully thorny account of working as a Yuletide elf" by The New York Times, this one-man show has become a seasonal favorite, with American Theatre Magazine naming it one of the most popular holiday shows after Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Last year's production of The Santaland Diaries was a hit for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley-Palo Alto Daily News hailed it for its "laugh-out-loud moments" and Talkin' Broadway described Max Tachis's performance as "hilariously delightful."
With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America's pre-eminent humor writers. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote "Sedaris belongs on any list of people writing in English at the moment who are revising our ideas about what's funny." He is the author of Theft by Finding, Barrel Fever, Holidays on Ice, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, each of which became immediate bestsellers. In May he released a new book of semi-autobiographical essays entitled Calypso. The audio version of Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls was a Grammy Awards Nominee for Best Spoken Word Album. Sedaris pieces appear regularly in The New Yorker and have twice been included in "The Best American Essays." There are more than ten million copies of his books in print and they have been translated into 25 languages.
Joe Mantello who adapted The Santaland Diaries, is an award-winning director and actor. His Tony wins include Best Direction of a Play for Take Me Out, and Best Direction of a Musical for Assassins. He made his Broadway acting debut as Louis Ironson in Angels in America. Since then he has gone on to direct many hits including Love! Valour! Compassion!, Take Me Out, the 2005 revival of The Odd Couple, 9 to 5, An Act of God, and more. He returned to the stage in 2011 as Ned Weeks in The Normal Heart, which earned him a Tony nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Play, was recently seen in Broadway play The Glass Menagerie alongside Sally Field, and received a 2018 Tony nomination for Best Direction of a Play for Edward Albee's Three Tall Women starring Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf, and Alison Pill. In 2018, he also directed the revival of The Boys in the Band, starring Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, and Matt Bomer. He received the Julie Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing from the Drama League, and many other wins and nominations from Drama Desk, Actors' Equity, the Obie Awards, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Bay Area native Max Tachis made his TheatreWorks debut last year as Crumpet the Elf/ David in The Santaland Diaries. His recent turn as Shagspeare in Equivocation at Dragon Theatre Company has been nominated for a 2018 Theatre Bay Area Award. Tachis has appeared in productions with the Palo Alto Players, City Lights Theater Company, Pear Theatre, and more. Also a playwright, his work Perishable, Keep Refrigerated premiered in 2014 with the Renegade Theatre Experiment.
Jeffrey Lo is a Filipino-American playwright and director based in the Bay Area. The Santaland Diaries marked Lo's TheatreWorks directorial debut, and the third collaboration with Tachis. He is the recipient of the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award, the Emerging Artist Laureate by Arts Council Silicon Valley and Theatre Bay Area Director's TITAN Award. His plays have been produced and workshopped at The BindleStiff Studio, City Lights Theater Company, and The Custom Made Theatre Company. His play Writing Fragments Home was a finalist for the Bay Area Playwright's Conference and a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Playwright's Conference. Recent directing credits include Peter and the Starcatcher at Hillbarn Theatre, The Crucible, Yellow Face, and Dead Man's Cell Phone at Los Altos Stage Company, Uncle Vanya at the Pear Theatre (BATCC award for Best Production), Eurydice at Palo Alto Players (TBA Awards finalist for Best Direction) and The Drunken City at Renegade Theatre Experiment. Lo has also worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and is a company member of Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company and San Francisco Playground. He is the Casting Director at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, a graduate of the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute and a proud alumnus of the UC Irvine Drama Department.
With some 100,000 patrons per year, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has captured a national reputation for artistic innovation and integrity, often presenting Bay Area theatregoers with their first look at acclaimed musicals, comedies, and dramas, directed by award-winning local and guest directors, and performed by professional actors cast locally and from across the country.
Photo credit: Kevin Berne