Stray Dog Brings A Darker Side of The Holidays with “The Santaland Diaries”

Stray Dog Theatre and Ben Watts bring us the revenge of the elves as “The Santaland Diaries” tells us of comedy writer David Sedaris and his adventures as a Macy’s elf during one holiday season. It’s a story that was begging to be told.

Although the script could use a little update from the original Joe Mantello adaptation, it doesn’t take away the laugh-out-loud reaction to this little bit of reality during all of the usual happy holiday fare. Stray Dog Artistic Director, Gary F. Bell, has handled the on stage shenanigans with a flair for the dramatic and his star, Ben Watts, does not disappoint. His sarcastic approach to the “rally meetings” for the elves to instill spirit to the reality of rude parents and even ruder and cruder children make for a unabashed look at retail in general and the holiday season of retail in particular.

The spare but effective set design of Jay V. Hall gives you the feeling of the season and then Ben Watts takes you on a journey you’re not likely to forget as he dons his tacky elf outfit and leads us through the “greeter” elves, the “picture taking” elves, the “exit” elves and everything in between. Anyone who has worked in retail has to applaud the final moments as one worker has decided enough is enough and let’s a customer know exactly what she thinks.

It may not be a must-see holiday tradition like “Rudolph” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” but “The Santaland Diaries” is certainly something we can all identify with- whether we’ve been in retail or not. It’s surely a microcosm of the worst job any of us ever had.

See the amazing Ben Watts as “Crumpet the Elf” in “The Santaland Diaries” through December 17th at the Tower Grove Abbey. Contact Stray Dog Theatre at 314-865-1995 or online at for tickets or more information.

2 Responses to “Stray Dog Brings A Darker Side of The Holidays with “The Santaland Diaries””

  1. Tony Says:

    Great review for Ben and the Stray Dog team! I loved the end of the show – a great touching moment to cap the cynicism! Did you review Tommy?

    • Steve Allen Says:

      Tony- Thanks for reading. I did do a review of Tommy- it was one of the last shows that actually wound up on But since so many reviews were posted late (often after a production was over), I decided to start this blog. I loved Tommy- thought it was one of the most professional shows I’ve seen in some time. Thanks again- Steve Allen

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