Des Moines Register - December 11, 2001

'The Eight' is irreverent look at Christmas

Register Staff Writer

Christmas isn't so merry and bright . . . if you're a reindeer.

That's the point of "The Eight Reindeer Monologues," an AriesWorks Entertainment's production that opened Sunday for six performances at the Beaverdale Social Club.

"The Eight" is the sordid little tale of what really goes on at the North Pole from the perspective of the eight famous reindeer that pull the sleigh every Christmas. They're disgruntled and they're ready to tell why.

This show is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who still believe in Saint Nick, and definitely not for the kids. "The Eight" gives graphic details about Santa's purported sexual obsession with reindeer, Mrs. Claus' drinking problem and the misguided goings-on in Santa's Toy Shop.

"The Eight" is a wicked glimpse of reality, with a few naughty jokes thrown in for good measure. Jeff Goode, writer of "The Eight Reindeer Monologues," takes a beloved childhood icon and dashes the hope that he is truly a saint by weaving in details of everyday issues.

"When a doe says no, it means no," says Blitzen of the controversy that has brought "The Eight" together in a tell-all fashion. It appears that Santa has had his way with Vixen and nobody is happy about.

Producer and director Kimberly Busbee and James Serpento have gathered a truly able cast to perform the monologues. Each of the eight embodies completely different character studies that seem to mingle well together.

Des Moines audiences will recognize Steve Pilchen, aka the Round Guy, as Dasher. Pilchen's portrayal of the lead reindeer is one of the highlights of this show.

Other bucks include J.P. Richardson (Hollywood/Prancer), Jeffrey Campbell (Cupid), Aaron Smith (Comet), and James Serpento (Donner). All are excellent in their respective roles.

This cast isn't all male - after all "The Eight" weren't all bucks. Blitzen, Dancer and Vixen, played by Dawn Schmidt, Jamie Kay Wagner and Jill Fouts, respectively give the female angle on being a doe in a buck's business.

Aside from a late start and the nuisance of an audience member's cell phone, this production of "The Eight Reindeer Monologues" was a true holiday hoot.

Leave the kids at home for this holiday gathering. Graphic language and adult content are aplenty here.

Reporter Jody Crossman can be reached at (515) 284-8266 or