Kalamazoo Gazette
November 29, 2009

Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus is 'so naughty' in 'Reindeer Monologues' at Epic Center Whole Art Theater

By Mark Wedel | Special to the Kalamazoo Gazette

KALAMAZOO — Santa Claus: Naughty or nice?

“So naughty,” said Randy Wolfe of the jolly ol’ elf who is suspected of being a pervert in “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues,” a dark comedy Wolfe is directing at Whole Art Theatre.

In this production last staged at the venue six years ago with “huge success,” Santa is taken into custody and his own reindeer accuse him of shocking crimes. Is it all just a misunderstanding, sexual harassment, or worse?
“The Eight: Reindeer Monologues” — Accusations, rumors and all-out attacks are flying fast and furious around Santa’s toyshop this holiday season as told in a series of monologues, as each of Santa’s flying hoofed critters confesses the truth behind the reported shocking allegations, presented by Whole Art Theatre, 8 p.m. Dec. 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, Whole Art Theatre at the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. Preview, 8 p.m. Dec. 3, pay what you can with a $5 minimum. Other dates: $20, $15 for seniors, $10 for students with a valid ID. Contains strong language, sexual content. (269) 345-7529, www.wholeart.org.

Audiences will find out when the show officially opens on Dec. 3.

Chicago playwright Jeff Goode first put on his creation in 1993. Every season since, the “procedural comedy” has “become a holiday tradition” for alternative theaters looking to provide something sour in the glut of seasonal sweets, Wolfe said.

When Whole Art staged “Reindeer” in 2003, the show took place at its 246 N. Kalamazoo Mall space. This time, it will be on the main stage at the Epic Center.

“The audience just ate it up when they saw it,” Wolfe said, of the Whole Art run six years ago. That year, it happened to be “art imitating life,” because just before the play opened, the late Michael Jackson was booked on suspicion of child molestation, Wolfe noted.

In an era of seedy scandals, the play rings true. Even at the North Pole during a blizzard, the world’s media are in a frenzy. The eight reindeer get hauled one at a time into an interrogation room to give their version of what happened. And the bucks and does all seem to have their own agendas, their own versions of the truth.

Adam Carter (Cupid), Kate Walker (Dancer) and Jennifer Moubray (Vixen) will return from the 2003 run. They’re joined by Adam Pasen (Dasher), Mitch Voss (“Hollywood” Prancer), Kristin Utrecth (Blitzen), Matt Shook (Comet), Jarrett Blackmon (Donner) and Lizz Matthews (security officer).

There will be no antlers for these deer, Wolfe said. They will be played as humans in an ugly tale. The interrogation room set will be basic. A blizzard soundscape and new music by John Purchase (who also wrote music for “Dog Sees God”) will provide atmosphere. “And there will be a power outage. That’s all I can say about that,” Wolfe said, hinting at other surprises.

“Reindeer” is certainly not for children or the sensitive. “It is a very dark comedy. It’s sort of the counter-programming for your traditional Christmas,” Wolfe said.

“Each theater in Kalamazoo is offering wonderful Christmas fare this year, and the Whole Art is bringing theirs to the table in the only way that Whole Art can do it,” he said.