The Ringwald offers holiday laughs with 'The Santaland Diaries' and more

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Richard Payton stars as Crumpet in "The SantaLand Diaries" and as and Jocelyn Dunbar in "Season’s Greetings," both based on written works by humorist and author David Sedaris. - PHOTO BY BRANDY JOE PLAMBECK
  • Photo by Brandy Joe Plambeck
  • Richard Payton stars as Crumpet in "The SantaLand Diaries" and as and Jocelyn Dunbar in "Season’s Greetings," both based on written works by humorist and author David Sedaris.

Christmas traditions start in the oddest places. A rural German custom of the 1700s has become a $1.5 billion-a-year industry. A hymn played with accompaniment by a guitar in a small Austrian town 200 years ago is the third-best-selling single of all time. A 1983 sleeper comedy, at least around the holidays, becomes a 24-hour channel of its own.

Similarly, a humorous 1992 essay is now a Christmastime tradition at Ferndale’s Ringwald Theater. It’s called The Santaland Diaries, and it’s Joe Mantello’s 1996 stage adaptation of David Sedaris’ fictionalized account of working as a Christmas elf in “Santaland” at Macy’s Department Store. For a decade now, the one-man play has been at the wintery heart of every theatrical season, along with its somewhat darker solo partner piece Season’s Greetings.

Ringwald fan favorite Richard Payton will take both pieces to the stage, as the disgruntled elf Crumpet and gracious matriarch Jocelyn Dunbar in an all-new production directed by Dyan Bailey. By all accounts, the performances will offer the sort of irreverent laughter that’s a perfect antidote to the stresses of the season.

The Santaland Diaries and Season’s Greetings will take place at 8 p.m. Dec. 14, 15, 16, and 18, at 5 p.m. Dec. 17, at the Ringwald Theatre, 22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-545-5545; ticket prices $15-$20; tickets available online; for more information see theringwald.com.

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