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An Interview with Crumpet

An Interview with Crumpet

They can be found everywhere: from the North Pole to the Island of Misfit Toys. From Macy’s 34th Street department store, to the Congress Hall Ballroom on Saturday mornings. They claim that they work hard all day, but their work is play. They are Santa’s elves. For Crumpet the Elf, his work and play has certainly gone hand in hand this holiday season. For the month of December, Congress Hall and Cape May Stage come together in bringing David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries to life in the Harrison Room. Audiences enjoyed Dinner and a show Thursday through Saturday, and lunch and a show for Sunday Matinees, with entertainment provided by none other than Crumpet the Elf, played by Brady Adair.

Santaland Diaries is a satirical one- man show based on writer David Sedaris’ real- life experience as a Christmas elf at Macy’s Department store in New York City. It seemed only fitting that one of the most non-traditional Christmas plays of all time is performed in a rather non-traditional theatrical space. The Harrison Room, most often used as a banquet room for private parties, is transformed into a place to enjoy not only delicious food, but also impeccable entertainment. Adair spoke of the advantages and disadvantages of performing in the Harrison Room.  “It’s an intimate space even though it’s a fairly large room. One of the advantages is you can talk to them (the audience) directly.  However, you really have to be on your game because people are so close and there is a lot of energy going back and forth, you have to be watchful of not being distracted.”

While Adair has been working as an actor in New York for nearly ten years, he has never had the opportunity to perform a one-man show before becoming “Crumpet” in Cape May last year. To prepare for the role, he spoke with someone who was working at the real Santaland at Macy’s 34th street store last year. He also watched YouTube videos about this magical winter fantasyland, and developed a new personality from all of his observances and research. Adair stressed the fact that he did not want “Crumpet” to be an impersonation of Sedaris by any means. “People know David Sedaris and his voice. I wanted to bring that to life without impersonating him. Between him and me you get a new person that is telling this story about going through this experience.”

A native of Washington state, Adair never had the opportunity to visit Cape May in the past, and was struck by what he calls “ a friendliness that is so genuine and warm. The first two days I was here I had two men tip their hats to me and say good morning. I thought ‘this is unreal.’ I’ve gone to a lot of other towns in this country and performed and I’ve experienced friendliness and people who are welcoming -but not to that degree. Its sort of like a small town America which you don’t see anymore.”

While it is not A Christmas Carol, Santaland Diaries gets to the heart of a time honored American childhood tradition: visiting Santa Claus. Adair shared some of his own time honored holiday family traditions. His mother would bake a special brioche- French bread for Christmas morning, and they would attend a church service. One weekend was always designated for baking cookies with the family. Christmas 2013 opened up the opportunity for Congress Hall’s “Crumpet” to participate in traditions in Cape May. Adair was struck by the wonderful shopping, dining, and the “level of sophistication” that Cape May has to offer year-round. However, it was one special event in West Cape May that brought about the warm idyllic feeling characteristic of our little town by the sea. “I went to the tree lighting ceremony in the borough of West Cape May and I was taken by the fact that it was so neighborly. It started raining that night, but it was ok because everyone fled into the West End Garage. They had set up trays of food, and that’s where the party was. Everyone came out to do this.” Whether it’s seeing The Nutcracker for the twentieth time or starting new traditions, there is something special about the holidays. This year Congress Hall and Cape May Stage decided to bring Santaland back to the Harrison Room. Along with “Crumpet the elf,” they get to the heart of what this season is all about. In speaking of his experience at the tree lighting, Brady Adair put it most eloquently in saying, “The Christmas spirit is a very unique thing because there is a lot of love there. Christmas brings everyone together.” Words of wisdom from an elf who found a home in the Harrison Room. 

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