Sunday News
November 23, 2008

Sexy Santa Reins

The dark truth about Christmas
BY CATH BENNETT - Sunday News | Sunday, 23 November 2008

POWER Rangers, Xena heroes, Outrageous Westies and Shortland Street sirens are uniting in a star-studded Christmas cracker of a play.

Fleur Saville, Anna Jullienne, Dean O'Gorman and Michael Hurst are among the stars of stage and screen taking part in dark comedy The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.

The idea of uniting New Zealand's best actors in one festive package of fun came from Beth Allen, actor Charlie McDermott and producer John Moffett who are putting the show together.

"We just had a big brainstorming session and went through our cellphone lists and thought about who would be around," said Beth, who plays Shortland Street's Dr Brooke Freeman.

"I talked to a whole bunch of people at Shortie and we just basically chucked all these people in together.

"It's actually a lot of fun.

"We've got this big colour-coded spreadsheet and we try to organise it around everyone's schedule.

"It's not as dramatic as I thought it was going to be, although it has at some points been a colourful mess!"

The opposite of a pantomime, the play is aimed at adults only and explores what happens when one of Santa's eight reindeer accuses him of sexual harassment.

Far from Rudolph's only problem being his red nose, the show relates the trials and tribulations of working with Father Christmas, who one character describes as "a walking, talking, holly-jolly sex crime waiting to happen".

"I'm so happy and proud to be involved in this project because it's time people learnt the truth about Santa," joked former Outrageous Fortune minx Claire Chitham.

"For so many years now, he's been put up on this pedestal and it's time he was taken down.

"Sure he brings toys to children and joy to people around the world at Christmas time but it's what he does with the rest of the year and those closest to him that should be of serious concern."

Performed at The Basement Theatre in Auckland over 14 nights, each show involves a cast of eight, so the 40 actors involved rotate the parts meaning audiences never quite know who they're going to see on stage.

But with performers ranging from Sunrise presenter Oliver Driver to Sione's Wedding star Madeleine Sami to comedian Justine Smith, the play is oozing with talent.

"If you're a theatre-goer in Auckland you'll recognise a lot of people," said Beth, who along with boyfriend and co-producer Charlie is also acting in the show.

"If not, you'll recognise a few familiar faces each time you go along.

"Each set of actors will lend their own slant to it.

"It's just a bit different from the usual Christmas fare.

"It might even come at a good time because the economy's a bit dire and maybe it'll reflect the slightly darker edge to everyone's mood at the moment!" she added.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues runs from December 4.