Goldbach shines in his performance of ‘The Santaland Diaries’


On Friday, Memorial Auditorium was transformed into a winter wonderland with the performance of “The Santaland Diaries.” The star of the show, Ethan Goldbach, who played the elf, acted his role with satirical humor.

“The Santaland Diaries” was originally created by David Sedaris in December of 1992. Sedaris’ essay outlines his exploits while working as an elf for Macy’s during the Christmas holidays.

National Public Radio gave the essay its first recognition. Listeners received the essay well and the success of “The Santaland Diaries” led to many more Sedaris essays. Actor and Director Joe Mantello recreated the essay. The show has become a holiday favorite among theatergoers across the country.

The audience felt close to the set with seats placed on the stage surrounding the one-man cast. A giant opened the book with “The Night Before Christmas” written across the pages, which transformed the set into the winter wonderland created by the essay.

A fireplace was situated with holiday figurines next to a warm armchair in which Goldbach recited the hour-long monologue. The humorous show fell into full swing when Goldbach began telling stories of his training to be an elf at Macy’s.

“I was at a coffee shop reading the want ads when I saw Macy’s Herald Square, the largest store in the country, has big opportunities for outgoing, fun loving people of all ages,” Goldbach recited.

Shippensburg Arts Programming and Education (SHAPE) organized this three-night event that had audiences laughing. Shippensburg locals Pat Cambri and Kathy Frey both had positive things to say about the show once the curtain closed.

“The show was hilarious and well-acted. Ethan was perfect for the part,” Cambri said after the show.

Frey explained she had originally heard Sedaris’ rendition on NPR.
“It was better than what I was expecting, and it was really neat to see it come alive on stage,” Frey said.

Goldbach received the script last spring to begin studying and memorizing.

“Rehearsal, rehearsal rehearsal,” Golbach said. “I was constantly working with the script. It is hard sometimes though; it is a one-man show. You do not have other actors to bounce off of while performing,” he said.

Director and professor Paris Peet approached Goldbach for the part of the elf in this adaptation.
Goldbach had the audience in stitches with his performance and with the stories of his character’s experience.
Some of these experiences ranged from elf training to the various Santas and celebrities Sedaris encountered while on the job. The interesting co-workers, who were employed as elves, and the snarky comments made by characters during the show, painted Sedaris’ picture perfectly for the audience.

A cheery Goldbach stayed after and spoke with the audience and was more than willing to answer questions.

“This show has been a great experience,” Goldbach said with a smile on his face.

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