By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The whole thing starts to feel like a con job. Like being invited to a fancy party, only to discover the host never hired a caterer and expects you to be satisfied with squeeze-cheese on a soggy cracker.
Santaland Diaries opens December 7 at WaterTower Theatre in Addison, 972-450-6232.
The show goes up again soon, playing twice nightly December 7 through 23. But this year the curly-toed elf shoes are on another actor's feet. Ted Wold now takes on the role of Crumpet, the gayest of Santa's helpers and the only one who sings "Silent Night" in the voice of Billie Holiday. The 46-year-old Wold most recently played the crusading reporter Melvin P. Thorpe in Contemporary Theatre's Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He's a solid comic actor, working steadily in recent seasons at Theatre Three and WaterTower.
A devotee of Sedaris' books and his audio essays on NPR, Wold says his interpretation of Santaland may shift the tone a smidge. "I saw Nye do it four years ago, and what I remember was, I laughed so hard, the person next to me complained," Wold says. "No one's like Nye. It will be almost impossible to duplicate that. I'd just fail miserably if I tried. My angle will be that Crumpet is the smartest guy in the room, but he's not there to mock the institution of Christmas."
Part of what makes Santaland so funny is that everyone who sees it can relate to suffering through an awful short-term job, even if it didn't come with a jingle-bell hat. Wold, who grew up in Minnesota, spent three teenage summers in Dallas working for his uncle, who owned the Roger Meier Cadillac dealership. "I know nothing about cars. I barely know how to drive one. I stocked parts for eight weeks every summer in an un-air-conditioned warehouse. At lunch I watched them play dominoes. This was as foreign to me as a virgin sacrifice. Every day I would think, 'This is why I'm going to college, so I won't have to do this again.'"
Wold finished college and law school and worked as an attorney till the day he fell asleep in court. He now runs his own legal consulting business (first piece of advice: "Stay awake in court"), which allows him to pursue acting roles. He's a favorite of local directors and gets booked up to a year in advance for parts. While performing Santaland, he'll be rehearsing the Michael Frayn drama Democracy, which opens in January at Theatre Three.
"The overlap will be interesting," Wold says. "After three weeks of doing a comedy, I get to play the spy's boss in Democracy. There's no humor at all. That's good. I like to keep myself off balance."
Meanwhile, Nye Cooper, having handed Crumpet's candy cane over to a new elf, will be starring in Angela Wilson's Dim All the Lights for Theatre Quorum. That one opens December 1 at the Bath House Cultural Center.
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