Easy Reader
November 6, 2008

A Christmas Story... or not

Reindeer never looked so good to Santa
by Tom Fitt
Published November 6, 2008

Meredith Rensa is Vixen, the purported victim of Santa’s roaming hands.

On Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Dopey and Sleepy and Grumpy and Larry and Curly and Moe. Oops. Sorry, it’s difficult keeping all these horny – er, horned – creatures in their right stories.

Welcome to “The Reindeer Chronicles,” a Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities production opening Friday at the Hermosa Playhouse (preview tonight). All members of the cast of eight (who’d a thought?) wear antlers throughout the show. Sound cartoonish? Just for a second. This little-performed play is anything but kiddie fodder. Take little Jimmy and Mary to “The Nutcracker” (there will be about 700 local productions with tutus all aflutter in the coming months).

Apparently, Santa’s belly that shakes like a bowlful of jelly is not the only part of the fat man that’s been alleged to have explored places unsuited for rosy cheeks, white beards and black boots. Well, maybe the black boots are appropriate. A reindeer has accused St. Nick of sexual harassment. Of course, the alleged victim is Vixen. Who else?! After one look at this cast’s Vixen (Meredith Rensa) you can’t blame Santa for admiring her hindquarters.

There’s much sexual tension as the eight tell their versions of the story. There are allusions to Rudolph (Donner’s his dad, if you didn’t know), but the young buck never appears on stage. Something to do with the lighting and the red nose thing, perhaps. A North Pole Senate Review Committee has been convened to investigate. Can they see Russia from the North Pole, asked the Alaskan governor? A frustrated Vixen threatens to move to Florida. There certainly must be much work for a sexy reindeer on South Beach.

Ted Escobar, a welcomed repeat performer from past CLOSBC productions, plays Prancer. “I am the egotistical, self-centered, I’m-gonna-be-a-star-someday reindeer,” said Escobar. Prancer has an agent, a publicist, and a growing list of reindeer groupies (kinda like the once-lovely but now blubbery followers of the Grateful Dead, if you can imagine).

“Prancer is always on the hoof for a part [guffaws all around], looking out for his next angle and his next role. He’s the only one, other than Rudolph, who’s actually had a film made about him,” said Escobar.
“This is a very dark comedy,” said director Stephanie Coltrin. “Some of the reindeer believe the accusations, some don’t. Ted’s character doesn’t care, he just wants to talk about himself. The reindeer give their statements, talking about themselves in relation to this accusation of Santa Claus.”

Why “Reindeer Monologues” for Hermosa?
“We wanted to do something a little Christmassy, but we wanted to do something that was a little edgy,” said Coltrin. This is the final production CLOSBC is presenting in Hermosa in 2008. “Fiddler on the Roof” comes next month to the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. As CLOSBC Executive Producer James Blackman has said in his pre-show monologues, “Nothing says Christmas like ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’” Plus a few disgruntled reindeer.

Speaking of Blackman, the producer joined this interview party near the end.
“We were trying to find something fun, and I guess alternative, for the holidays because everything gets so traditional,” said Blackman.
“Everything’s way too happy,” laughed Coltrin.

Regarding the adult humor of “Reindeer,” Blackman said, “I mean, c’mon, Hermosa’s a fun town. We have a lot of young at heart people. ‘Reindeer Monologues’ is bad Santa; it’s dark humor and it’s silly and there’s a little bit of inappropriateness, but this isn’t the big family venue, so we get to do a bit more edgier stuff here.”

Regardless your opinions on flying reindeer, chimney shushing and Santa’s alleged improprieties, “Reindeer Monologues” promises to be a brief escape from the upcoming doldrums of THE MALL and Christmas shopping.

“Reindeer Monologues,” Hermosa Beach Playhouse, Pier and PCH. Through Nov. 16. The shows run Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets are $40-$45. Call 310-372-4477 or visit www.hermosabeachplayhouse.com. ER