Elf vs. Elf

Frank Theatre’s Santaland Diaries, David Sedaris’s tale of being a Macy’s elf, runs from December 6 to 23. Elf, a musical version of the Will Ferrell film, runs at the Ordway from December 5 to 30.

Best Line

Santaland Diaries “You’re an elf and you’re going to wear panties like an elf.”; Elf “This place reminds me of Santa’s Workshop! Except…everyone looks like they want to hurt me.”

Edge: Tie

Scuttlebutt

Santaland Diaries Fact checking by the New Republic revealed aspects of Sedaris’s story to be invented; Elf Asked whether it’s important that children believe in Santa, Ferrell replied, “It’s important for the economy.”

Edge: Santaland Diaries

Reviews

Santaland Diaries “Priceless observations.”—New York Times; Elf “Polished…aggressively festive.”—New York Times

Edge: Santaland Diaries

Height

Santaland Diaries David Sedaris: 5’5″; Elf Will Ferrell: 6’3″

Edge: Elf

Box Office

Santaland Diaries C’mon man, it’s art!; Elf $220 million

Edge: Elf

Winner

It’s a tie. Though we anticipate zero audience crossover.
 


Mrs. Cratchit Blues

Holiday entertainment is rife with tradition. Guess where that leaves women?

In his novella A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens didn’t bother giving Mrs. Cratchit a first name, an omission that so perturbed its theatrical adapters over the years that they began calling her Emily. Others have countered the story’s lack of strong female characters with sheer numbers, recasting minor male roles as female. Of course, the fable remains concerned with the problems and redemption of men, though you sound like a Grinch in pointing this out and no one wants to be a Grinch (not even the Grinch). But something is making the holidays’ regressive streak stand out this year—and it’s a good thing. Theaters and other purveyors of popular culture have become much more progressive, and now, for most of the year, you can experience onstage just about any point of view out there, including some you’d rather not. It’s a smart shift, especially toward the female perspective, considering that women buy roughly 70 percent of theater tickets and shows by women about women make more money—at least on Broadway—than plays by men. And then comes Christmas. Theaters drag out their hoary chestnuts or new takes on old tropes—shows that, even when they’re great fun, are so absent of women that you’d think the entire gender wintered in Bermuda. The reasons may be innocent: we want to warm ourselves by the cozy fire of tradition, introduce our kids to the stories we loved—a long time ago. But the result is that the exceptions, not the chestnuts, stand out, like the Jungle Theater’s holiday show: the recent Broadway hit In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play). It features mostly women in a story by a female playwright about exactly what it sounds like. It will probably sell out.

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