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THE EIGHT: REINDEER MONOLOGUES

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There are so many holiday productions trampling the boards this season that one might consider boiling a few artistic directors in their own pudding and burying joyful actors with a sprig of holly through the hearts. This offering, however, is guaranteed to jumpstart the spirits of the Grinch-iest among us, as Santa's annual journey through the night sky is eclipsed by a shocking scandal swirling around his workshop. The Jolly Elf has been accused of sexual molestation, another topical subject onstage this year. The victim isn't a choirboy this time but a famous doe named Vixen, whose allegations are sullied by her own unsavory reputation for giving snout jobs behind the stables.

One by one, Santa's elite fleet of four-legged flyers trot out to give the media their individual spin on the rumors. Justin Lawrence sets the tone beautifully as his Dasher venomously testifies against his corpulent employer, angry ever since one foggy night his career as lead reindeer became overshadowed by a nose. Cupid, the team's resident flamboyant tail-swisher (Stephen Wheeler in the show's funniest performance), isn't surprised by the gossip, believing his boss was always a walking sex crime about to happen. "You know how many tight asses he's had across his knee over the years?" he snorts, with a classic roll of the eyes. Ally Kaye is a standout as Blitzen, a German-accented Hedwig-with-horns who enjoys traveling the world one night a year wearing nothing but a harness and leather straps. And as Vixen, who once appeared in Playboy without the sleigh bells, and who confesses going "doe-to-doe" with Blitzen on occasion, Laura Walker provides the perfect finale for Jeff Goode's irreverent holiday classic, ending the evening with a defiant but forlorn delivery something akin to Bernadette Peters replacing Amy Sedaris on Strangers With Candy.

Under the snappy direction of August Vivirito, Santa's notorious herd has found a perfect home at the Attic, so put it directly on the top of your wish list. It's not a turkey for the Cratchit's dinner table, but it sure gives this overworked season a good Christmas goose.

"The Eight: Reindeer Monologues," presented by Shire Entertainment in association with Attic Theatre Ensemble at the Attic Theatre & Film Center, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Nov. 12-Dec. 18. $20. (323) 525-0600, ext. 2.

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