The Valley Planet - Volume 5, Issue 16
November 22 - December 12, 2007

Your Antidote to the Sugary Sweet Holiday Cheer

It's a dark Christmas comedy that has become something of a cult classic here in Huntsville. The Eight: Reindeer Monologues written by Jeff Goode returns to the stage with his new hit, Seven Santas! Jeff Goode is the author of many other plays, musicals, television shows and the creator of Disney's animated series American Dragon: Jake Long. He is a founder of the original No Shame Theatre, and founding artistic director of No Shame Los Angeles.

And "no shame" is a perfect moniker for Jeff Goode's play, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. It sets the holidays off kilter with a cynical, twisted and drop dead funny look at the holidays. Eight very articulate, anthropomorphized reindeer take the stage to discuss the terrible scandal that has so polarized opinions at the North Pole. Scandal erupts at the North Pole and as mass media descends upon the event, the other members of the sleigh team demand to share their perspectives, and a horrific tale of corruption and perversion emerges, which seems to implicate everyone from the littlest elf to the tainted Saint himself. With each deer's confession, the truth behind the shocking allegations becomes clearer and clearer. ...and murkier and murkier. If you're tired of the sugary sweet holidays, this play is the antidote! It's NOT for children under 16!

Alpha Stage Productions at Renaissance Theatre revives the play for yet another year, in grand style. This year, Renaissance Theatre is pairing The Eight: Reindeer Monologues with the new release by the same playwright: Seven Santas, for an evening of two one act plays. No, it's not Santa's retaliation to the whistle blowing deer. It's a look at who Santa is, was, will be. And it's just as sick and twisted as The Eight! It's fantastic. Sentenced to rehab for a minor traffic violation, Santa finds himself in a detox program run by the estranged Mrs. Claus. Santa's desperate struggle to conceal the truth about his arrest uncovers another sordid secret that could mean the end of Christmas-as-we-know-it. This time, it's Santa's turn to speak, and Christmas will never ever be the same.

Alpha Stage's director and producer for this show is once again, Criss Ashwell. In her correspondence with the playwright, Jeff Goode says. "...I want to thank you for taking the leap of producing the play this season. It's always a risk doing a new play. (Especially sight unseen.) And my work as a playwright would be impossible without theatricians like yourself, with the cajones to adventure into these uncharted waters. Thank you."

The format of the show is a little different from The Eight. The first half of the one act production is presented similarly, in monologue style (with a little heckling from the side). "...The heckles from the cast are essentially part of the ambience." But the second half comes fast and furious as every Santa joins in at once. "...We establish, from the very beginning, that these characters are never truly alone onstage - even when their antagonists are unseen or offstage - that there are other characters in the play, and in fact, in the same space with them, so that there is a sense of "the room that they are in", even if we only see the characters in an isolated spotlight with no walls. And possibly a somewhat antagonistic room, at that, which may add some tension to the situation long before the real shouting begins," says Jeff Goode.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues and Seven Santas by Jeff Goode will be presented on the Alpha Stage, downstairs, at Renaissance Theatre. Show dates are December 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. with matinee December 9 at 2:30 p.m. Renaissance Theatre is located at 1214 Meridian Street in Huntsville. Reservations are highly recommended as we sold out just about every show last year. Call 256-536-3117 for tickets more information. Again, this is NOT for children.