December 5, 2008
Originally scheduled to be played separately on alternating Fridays and Saturdays, Rarely Done Productions offered both of their holiday productions, "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" and "7 Santas", as a "double bill" preview on Thursday evening.
My "reviewer senses" tell me that this was most likely done as a one-night-only offer, somewhat disguised as a last dress rehearsal for both productions.
First off, don't be fooled or misled by the titles. Both of these offerings are not "Holiday" shows in the traditional sense. That's code for leave everyone under 18 at home. There's enough concentration on and material for kids this time of year, anyway. Adults deserve some holiday "cheer", too. And plenty of that "cheer" you'll get.
If enough of the candy-cane schmaltz has dulled your senses and your sensibilities over your adult years, and you're in the mood to travel a different live entertainment road this holiday season, then check out either or both of these productions for a slightly off-beat treatment of Santa Claus, his reindeer, and a whole lotta stuff going on at the North Pole aside from toymaking.
Played within the intimate confines of Jazz Central's cozy space, we witness eight monologues, delivered more as confessionals, by Santa's eight reindeer as they "spill the beans" regarding some of the less-than-savory goings-on at the Claus abode over the past year.
For the highly "seasoned" performances, director Dan Tursi has drawn upon the veteran stage talents of J. Brazil, Alan Stilman, Gennaro Parlato, David Minikhiem, Christopher James, Jodi Bova, Jordan Glaski, and Aubry Panek.
Topics covered include sexual harassment, substance abuse, rape, and other sordid behaviors, however, as couched within the Santa-myth, they become more powerful and thought-provoking than a more pedestrian, run-of-the-mill treatment that we get on a daily basis.
"7 Santas", utilizing the same cast, with the addition of Becky Bottril as Mrs. Claus, doesn't concentrate so much on behaviors as it does on the many faces and "Santa types". Basically, the piece explores various Santas, including traditional, religious, historical, modern/commercial, gay, and entrepreneurial.
Either or both of these productions are sure to begin your holiday season with a humorous, alternative point-of-view.
Length of performances: one hour, ten minutes for each
Attendance: Full house for preview
Family Guide: Mature themes, adult language.