Courier Post
December 14, 2009

Herd on the street: A reindeer ruckus

by Jim Walsh

Dear Santa,

I'm sorry to report someone's been a naughty boy.

And apparently, it's you.

That's the shocking premise of a show being staged this weekend at Camden County College -- a perverse production that explores a Santa sex scandal.

"It's very funny," the director, Denise Buzz, says of "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues."

But she also warns, "It's very dark."

Now, Santa, I wish "dark" meant you must be near the stage for a good view. In fact, it suggests your alleged antics aren't suitable for children.

I'll sum up the story this way: Possibly due to comic confusion over Rudolph's nose, Santa mistakes his reindeer stable for a red-light district. Soon, Vixen is claiming harassment -- to put it mildly. Next, Rudolph complains about your idea of reindeer games.

And one by one, Santa, the members of your flight crew take off on you.

"Comet is the only one who semi-defends Santa Claus," says Buzz, an adjunct professor of public speaking at CCC. "Everyone else has their gripes about him."

In other words, think "A Christmas Quarrel."

While the show's meant for mature audiences, it's not overly adult, Buzz says.

"Nobody takes their clothes off," she observes.

Good thing, too. After all, they're at the North Pole.

This is the South Jersey debut for a show that was first presented in Chicago in 1994. It's since appeared all over the world, becoming a strange staple of the holiday season.

"It has a following," says Allison Green, CCC's coordinator of performing and communication arts. "It really is so outrageous."

For some people, this might be too outrageous -- even Santanic. Indeed, Green says some patrons have walked out on productions elsewhere.

But she sees this as a welcome change of pace from the school's usual productions.

"We just do such wholesome stuff on the main stage that we wanted to perform something edgy in the Little Theatre," she observes of the 90-seat venue.

And Buzz says the show is part of an established holiday-season genre, comparing it to "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

Still, I'm horrified by the mere concept. I can't believe Santa Claus would do such terrible things -- especially in a world where reindeer can talk.

Buzz notes performers from the school and community will appear in the show, which will be presented free with a request for a donation.

"I had no trouble casting this," she says. "They tweeted and YouTubed it, and they all wanted to do this."

Then again, the actors won't perform in conventional style. Instead, each will read from a script during the 90-minute show.

"Even though they're going to have the script in hand, they're going to be moving around," notes Buzz. "And Vixen is a vixen. I've told her, "You are more than welcome to go sit in someone's lap.' " So maybe there is an advantage to sitting up front. But if you do that, Santa, show a little elf control.