WADE MCCOLLUM is one of Portland's favorite local actors—and he's a busy man these days. Not only is he finishing up his current run with Portland Playhouse's Dying City this weekend, but he is simultaneously reprising the role of Crumpet, the holiday-humbugging elf, in Portland Center Stage's (PCS) adaptation of David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries.
For folks who saw McCollum in his candy-cane tights last year (it's his second turn in the role), there won't be any new surprises here. The show is still basically a one-man, theatrical revamping (adapted by Joe Mantello and directed by Wendy Knox) of David Sedaris' account of his real-life escapades as a Macy's department store elf. The material is what you'd expect from Sedaris: dry and pessimistic, but at the same time thoughtful and genuinely funny. And when matched with McCollum's technical precision and exuberant presence on stage, one can see why PCS agreed to letting him share time with Portland Playhouse. The show is bound to be a cash cow for the company, and one that most likely brings in dollars from a younger, and dare I say hipper, crowd than what they're used to at the Armory.
This is not to say that your holiday-spirit gag reflex won't be challenged with this production. The piece does find a few opportunities to smuggle in a little "'tis the season" sentiment. But what'd you expect? The main character is an elf. A snide, cynical, and enormously tall elf, but an elf nonetheless.