Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Scotty Keister 

Who knew the reindeer were so disgruntled? But considering the secrets we find out about the real Santa (not to mention his wife) in The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, it’s no freaking wonder. It’s also no wonder this is the 12th year the Chance Theater has brought this show back for Christmas. For those seeking out a particularly irreverent holiday show, they need seek no further.

Each of the eight famous flying reindeer (not including Rudolph, who is in rehab) take the stage in succession and let out reindeer001alittle secrets about each other and their boss, secrets you probably didn’t want to know. The actors are dressed as reindeer only in so far as they wear floppy ears and furry antlers — except for the female deer who have little antler bumps — and mittens for hooves. The remainder of their costumes reflect their personalities. And yes, they have very distinct and distinctly large personalities. Dasher is a macho hero dude; Cupid a very dear gay deer; Hollywood (or Prancer) is — as his nickname suggests — all about the image; Blitzen is a hardcore women’s rights Irish punk; Comet is a Brooklynesque street dude; Dancer is a washed up Midwestern dance instructor; Donner is an old man and Rudolph’s beleaguered dad; and lastly, Vixen is, well, a vixen, and pretty much the focus of all the trouble. You see, in the past Santa has been caught making very inappropriate sexual advances on Vixen, and everyone knows about it. And then there is Santa’s continual harassment of the elves, that is when Mrs. Claus isn’t doing naughty costume stunts with them. It seems the North Pole is in serious need of some SVU cops, or at the very least an HR office.

This all goes down very tongue in cheek, wink-wink. The reindeer and the audience, many of whom have clearly seen this reindeer005ashow a number of times, all talk back to each other, not unlike The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The reindeer go up into the audience to chat, harangue, and fist bump. Vixen even gives one lucky guy a lap dance.

Sometimes the humor seemed a little forced to me, as this was my first viewing. I got the feeling the performers were working with shtick that was very well-practiced, especially since much of the cast have been doing this show for years. As far as that goes, since so many actors are involved this season, there will be a different cast for every performance, including men playing the female roles and vice versa. For the show I saw, standouts included Casey Long as the chest-thumping Dasher, Jocelyn A. Brown in her best brogue making Blitzen proud, Karen Jean Olds as the hysterically nervous Dancer, Richard Comeau as the forlorn Donner, and Camryn Zelinger as a very sexy and funny Vixen. Needless to say, this is a very adult show. As written by Jeff Goode and updated annually by the cast with countless contemporary references, the themes and gags are mostly sexually perverse, but also built out of very human foibles. It’s confusing to tell at times if we’re supposed to think of them as people, reindeer, or some mish-mash of both.

Directed by Chance veteran Alex Bueno, the show moves right along, never pauses or rests — one reindeer after another — and runs about eighty minutes, depending upon how much improv there is with the audience. It’s a funny and off the wall evening, with lots of the unexpected and generally very well performed. It runs through December 20.

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