Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Santaland Diaries starring Richard Blunt

Rick Blunt as Crumpet the Elf in Santaland Diaries. Photo by Michael Bailey.
I had the pleasure of sitting on stage for two performances of "Santaland Diaries" this season. The first performance was the day after Christmas (I also saw "A Christmas Carol" and the penultimate performance of "The Twelve Dates of Christmas"), and the second was the final performance on New Year's Eve. For both shows' pre-show entertainment Daniel Jimenez and Aidan O'Reilly were joined onstage by the great Chris Johnston. Some of the songs featured were a cover of Sufjan Stevens' "Star of Wonder," (Amazing, blows Stevens' version away), Jimenez's version of Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song," a mash-up of Brand New's "70 times 7" and "Mixtape," and The Arrogant Worms' "Santa's Going to Kick Your Ass."

Blunt kicked off the show by walking out and dropping a bag and saying "Marley was fucking dead!" The first crowd seemed to get the joke, the second one didn't, with Blunt chiding them "It's a little Christmas Carol humor, people." Despite this faux pas, the second crowd was livelier and more energetic than the first one and Blunt is a performer who definitely feeds off the energy of a crowd. In the first show it seemed the only people he had to play with were my wife and I. In the second one, he had lots of willing participants and he was able to ad lib a bit more.

Blunt took over the Elf costume from John Harrell who had played Crumpet the past several years (along with Christopher Seiler one season- I'm sorry I missed his performance). Blunt is a more lovable, albeit pissed off Elf, whereas Harrell is a more bitter, snarky Crumpet. Blunt's take on the Jersey pilgrims to Macy's Santaland was terrific. In one memorable scene in the first performance we saw, Blunt was changing into his elf costume and having a hard time bending over to get his shoes on. As he struggled he said, "I should have gotten a job as a Santa." Maybe next year, Rick :)

Following the show the Reckless Ecstasy troupe sans Dennis Henry (he acted as MC) and Blunt (who helped out on a couple of songs) staged a two and a half hour concert and countdown to 2011. It was a great show with tons of songs and much revelry. Chris Johnston even joined the band on the banjo for one song. Most of the ASC Resident Troupe were in attendance and Sarah Fallon dropped a glass of red wine on me from the balcony (I was wearing all white). All in all it was a night to remember!
Rick Blunt in The Santaland Diaries. Photo by Michael Bailey

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