Photo by Owen Carey

BEFORE STORM LARGE became the hottest ticket in town, Wade McCollum was the darling of the Portland theater scene. Currently based in New York, the actor is back on his home turf for this adaptation of David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries," an acerbic story about a stint working as an extremely grumpy elf at a mall Santaland. The story—which debuted on NPR and was later published, then adapted for the stage—is a holiday staple for people who like to pretend they hate the holidays.

The one-man show is conversational and funny, as McCollum (whose character goes by "Crumpet," his elf name) takes the audience backstage at a high-volume Christmas village, impersonating by turns the other elves he works with and the parents, children, and semi-retarded adults who come to see Santa. As Crumpet, McCollum lacks a certain edge—he's not quite as bitter as he really should be, considering that his work uniform involves candy cane-striped tights. But as soon as he takes on the role of a too-enthusiastic boss, or a cock-teasing fellow elf, it's clear why he was cast—each of the characters he impersonates is distinct, fully realized, down to the details.

Before heading out to see this one, sit down with your Christmas shopping list and make sure you're in an okay place. The show is punctuated by announcements counting down the number of shopping days until Christmas, a gimmick that perfectly captures the nail-biting anxiety of the season. It's clever, sure, but... seriously. Only 16 shopping days left.