TheaterWorks' 'Santaland Diaries' Takes A Different Look At Elf Esteem

 

By FRANK RIZZO

 

First impressions: When one thinks of a stand-in for David Sedaris' singular voice in the staging of his "The Santaland Diaries" one thinks of quirky and (how shall I say it?) off-beat-looking actors, perhaps with an adnoidal condition. But director Rob Ruggiero decides to go in a different casting direction for this production and tall, buff and handsome Jeff Cready is now playing the sardonic Macy's elf, Crumpet.

 

It takes a while for the adjustment -- after all, how could such an obviously attractive man be seen as one of life's losers? But emphasizing the character as a desperate, out-of-work actor, eventually works and plays into those universal times when anyone can feel like they've reached the humiliating bottom.

 

Kready, who was so fine in Goodspeed' Opera House's splendid production of "Carousel" this summer (also directed by Ruggiero), avoids being a Sedaris wannabe and instead gives a sharp-edged, playful and energetic performance that would right at home on Comedy Central.

 

The basics: The show plays through Dec. 23 at the 233 Pearl St., Hartford. Running time is one hour with no intermission. Information: 860-527-7838 and www.theaterworks.hartford.org.


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