Spartanburg Herald-Journal - December 13, 2007

Escape

'The Eight: Reindeer Monologues,' or what drives Santa's crew?

By Jose Franco

He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows when you've been bad or good. So

You know who I'm talking about. And now the reindeer are talking, too.

Spartanburg's Next Stages theater troupe is presenting the dark comedy "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" for three performances at The Showroom. In the play, scandal erupts at the North Pole when one of Santa's eight tiny reindeer accuses him of sexual harassment.

"The production is an adult comedy with a post-'Nutcracker' palate cleanser," said director Jay Coffman, who also plays Cupid. "The general premise is that Vixen, one of Santa's reindeer, is bringing a sexual harassment suit against Santa Claus. And so all of the eight reindeer from the reindeer team come and give their own perspective on what's been happening at the North Pole."

About 100 people attended each night at last year's production, so the troupe brought it back.

"The characters are pretty definable," Coffman said. "Comet is a former gang member and he's a real redneck. Cupid is the only openly gay reindeer. Blitzen is a hard-core Goth. Vixen is the typical trashy reindeer and Donner is Rudolph's father ."

Santa Claus and his wife never appear, but their names come up.

"If you are really bound to the Christmas tradition, and you don't want any of your childhood fantasies about Santa Claus destroyed, this may not be the show for you," Coffman said. "Last year we thought people would be offended. The language can be strong. But people just rolled (with laughter). No one was offended. I think they knew what they were getting into."

The play is eight actors in normal street clothes with reindeer antlers on their heads. Last year, the set was a Tiki bar at the North Pole called Tiki Dashers. This year, the set is an upscale, New York boutique restaurant at the North Pole called No Po, a reindeer bistro and lounge.

The set "will be all black and chrome and leather," Coffman said.

Actress Teresa Hough is tackling the role of Vixen for a second year. "She's a naughty girl," Hough said. "She's playful. She's given a bad rap. She's actually a very innocent reindeer. She's just a little on the frisky side."

Hough just loved the part. "I was a little apprehensive about some of the things I had to say on the stage. It's very adult content."

The actress recently played the grandmother in Ballet Spartanburg's production of "The Nutcracker." "I am going from one extreme to another," she said. "I'm going from playing an 80-year-old to a vixen."

Each actor had about eight pages of lines to learn.

Tiffany Nave plays Blitzen. "She's tripped out and has a nose ring," Nave said. "She's the kind of deer that jumps on any political bandwagon.

"I came last year to watch and I just raved and raved about it. And now I'm in it," she said.

Hough is the last reindeer to come out on stage. "So she is expected and that gives me a sense of nervousness knowing that people are waiting for her to come out at the end. The other reindeer are rallying behind her, except for a few who don't think she should be speaking her mind."

Coffman said if the audience isn't offended by "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues," then they just aren't doing their job right.