Newsday - Friday, November 23, 2001

These Reindeer Games Are Claus for Concern
By Steve Parks

November 23, 2001


THE REINDEER MONOLOGUES. Long Island premiere of a play by Jeff Goode. Directed by Joan St. Onge; set, Fred Sprauer; lighting, Al Davis; costumes, Lois Lockwood. At Arena Players' Second Stage, 294 Rte. 109, East Farmingdale, through Dec. 16. Seen opening night, Nov. 9.

FIRST OF ALL, this is not a show for little Santa believers.

Not that the reindeer burst illusions about his existence. In fact, they draw as personal a portrait of Mr. Claus - and Mrs., too - as we have heard anywhere. According to the Great Eight bucks and does gathered by author Jeff Goode to offer their testimony in "The Reindeer Monologues," Santa is a pedophile who, when it's out of season for young children to sit on his lap, resorts to bestiality with his antlered herd.

On Dasher and Dancer, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, Vixen and, whatshisname? Hollywood? Yes, the hooved artist formerly known as Prancer has taken a stage name. One by one they deliver a dual-gender, four- legged "Vagina Monologues" indictment of the Fat One.

Joan St. Onge has the perfect resume for directing the Long Island premiere of "The Reindeer Monologues." Not only does St. Onge teach improvisation at the Brokerage comedy club and Arena Players' acting school, as a stand-up comic she has opened for Paula Poundstone, Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Sinbad and others. St. Onge recruited five comic actors, including some of her associates at the Brokerage, to play the eight reindeer.

Those with dual identities include Julian Christopher, who plays Cupid as a Flower Child queen and Hollywood/Prancer as a speed-freak narcissist preparing for his next film, "Prancer II, The Sequel."

In his two monologues, Brian Gregory presents a macho Dasher, despite the black tights under his black leather jacket, and a wimpish Donner, who rues the day he let Santa walk his son, Rudolph, home from school. Donner wants to believe Dasher that Santa's OK, but wonders if he can trust a deer who crashed into the Sears Tower (the play was written before Sept. 11).

Meanwhile, Comet, the recovering drug-addict deer played with analytical self-assurance by Daniel Frick, ascribes the stories about Santa to the sexual preference of a few of his teammates.

Millie Michaels' Blitzen says Santa makes her "feel like a piece of venison" while the other one, Dancer, an antler-bejeweled ballerina, complains about Comet's fanatical fling with Islam (dancing was banned).

Michaels coyly keeps us guessing by omitting any sexual-preference stereotyping of either character.

In her decolletage-enhancing red cocktail dress, Sarah Moore, as the siren deer, Vixen, makes us wonder why Santa ever needed a red-nosed reindeer to lead the team. She also makes a fine final witness for the prosecution in this comic indictment.

"The Reindeer Monologues" offers a refreshingly bent ho-ho-ho perspective on North Pole fantasies. But it's not for everyone. Certainly not for kids who might be waiting in line soon to sit in Santa's lap.

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