If you're an unemployed actor, you might be willing to take any job to pay your rent.  David Sedaris found himself in just such a state after landing in New York to make his fame and fortune on the stage. He has memorialized the experience in a one-man show "The Santaland Diaries" starring Jeff Kready, playing with jolly holly fun at TheaterWorks of Hartford until Sunday, December 23.


While the out-of-work actor had some standards, (he would not be dressed as a french fry, hot dog or taco standing on the street corner handing out leaflets), he found himself willing to consider an ad for a Christmas elf at Macy's Department Store, especially after his roommate dared him to apply. At thirty-three years of age, his biggest fear was that he wouldn't be hired.


Enter Jeff Kready as Crumpet the reluctant elf who endures the indignities of the lengthy application process and then finds himself clad in red, white and green from his sparkling cap to his curled velvet toes, complete with candy cane leggings. As an elf with an attitude, he has many career opportunities, from entrance or exit elf, bridge elf, runner elf, magic window or magic tree elf, photo or island elf. Wherever he lands, he has to deal with grumpy parents and crying children and impossible to please bosses, not to mention fellow elves named Snowball, Gingerbread, Jingle and even Dreidel.


Kready is alternately philosophical and sarcastic about his seasonal stint with Santa, and the task of being "relentlessly cheerful" and permanently merry only gives him a headache. His goal of being elected into the Elfin Hall of Fame is probably a lost cause. Yet late on Christmas Eve, the skeptical Crumpet finds himself in the presence of a Kris Kingle who gives him pause and actually a new perspective on the true meaning of the holiday. Rob Ruggiero directs this Christmas tale that is definitely different in its spirit of looking behind the candy canes for what is lurking in the red and green shadows.


For tickets ($30 subscribers, $35 senior matinees, student rush $17, general admission $40-53), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Come early and view the history of TheaterWorks' productions in posters in their upstairs art gallery.


Lace your eggnog with a splash of rum and let one silly and sarcastic elf, wonderfully captured by Jeff Kready, bring you some unbridled Christmas cheer.

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