Troy Heard, the artistic director of the Chattahoochee Shakespeare Co. first directed “SantaLand Diaries” in 2001, and again in 2002, in the now defunct Playwright Cafe.
“I thought it was time” to do it again, he said.
It’s based on a story by humorist David Sedaris about his true-life stint as one of Santa’s elves in the New York City Macy’s department store.
This year, Heard is pairing “SantaLand Diaries” with another short piece written by Sedaris. “Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol.” It’s about a theater critic who decides to review a local grade school’s Christmas pageant.
Both stories are in Sedaris’ book, “Holidays on Ice.”
“It will be interesting to see it with ‘SantaLand Diaries,’” Heard said. “Thaddeus is slightly full of himself. Sedaris is satirizing pomposity, but is as sarcastic as he can be. But he even gives the character a heart.”
Starring in “Front Row Center” is Stephen Sisson, who was one of the artistic directors of the now-folded The Human Experience Theatre. Since Heard came back to Columbus, Sisson has either starred in or attended every show.
Ethan Everett is Santa’s elf in “SantaLand Diaries” while Jackie Kappas plays all the other roles (about 20 in all). The Columbus State University sophomore theater major briefly worked with Heard when he helped Becky Becker with the oral history project of Bibb City. Kappas played Bibb City resident and local store owner Rick McKnight and local historian Billy Winn.
“I decided to throw 18 more (roles) at her,” Heard said.
Everett and Heard think “SantaLand Diaries” will be a perfect “date” show for the holiday season.
Because so many people have heard Sedaris read “SantaLand Diaries” on NPR, Everett said he’s working hard to make the character his own.
“I’m trying to make it less a character and more of a real person. I’ve had a lot of character choices.”
Anyone who has worked in retail has run into some of the characters that Everett’s elf has encountered, Heard said.
“It’s very relatable,” Everett agreed. “That’s what makes David Sedaris so great. There’s nothing funnier than taking something dark and wrong into situations like that.”
And Everett said the play pretty much stays true to the original short story.