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In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be easy to forget the humanity of America’s retail workers. Fortunately, there’s a show for that. 

The Santaland Diaries,” now open at Houston’s Alley Theatre, is a one-man tour de force that dares to poke fun at our less-than-savory attitudes towards each other and ourselves. When a struggling, unemployed actor accepts a job as one of Santa’s little helpers, he encounters a perplexing mix of personalities and situations that make his yule tide season less than bright.

Written by acclaimed playwright and humorist David Sedaris, “The Santaland Diaries” is laugh out loud funny and smart. Sedaris, well known for his social criticism of American life in essay collections including “Naked” and “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” frames the season with wit and a unique perspective audiences won’t soon forget. David Cromer directs.

Alley Theatre company artist Todd Waite reprises his role as Crumpet, the reluctant Macy’s department store elf, for the fifth Christmas season to the delight of theatergoers. Waite’s acumen for storytelling and improvisation shines as he moves about the Neuhaus Stage, interacting with the audience as they vicariously experience Crumpet’s life in Santaland. Awkward, sarcastic and campy, Waite will leave you cheering on the protagonist Crumpet.

For anyone who has ever worked as a retail employee during the holiday, empathy abounds for Crumpet; for the veteran shopper, the show is a humorous indictment of our darker selves. You will love this show no matter where you fit in that equation.

I am also convinced history will afford Waite the same reverence in this role as company actor James Black receives as Scrooge in Alley’s Hubbard Stage production, “A Christmas Carol.”

Kudos to Karin Rabe‘s exceptional scenic design, lighting by Kevin Rigdon and sound design by Pierre Dupree, each element a character within itself.

Recommended for mature audiences. Contains language and subject matter not suitable for sensitive audience members and children.

“The Santaland Diaries” runs through December 31 on the Neuhaus Stage, at Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave. Tickets available at, by phone at 713-220-5700, and at the box office. 

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Review: ‘The Santaland Diaries’ a Comedic Take on Christmas, Commercialism  was originally published on