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The Eight: Reindeer Monologues

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Vixen 08This Christmas season, Laboratory Theater of Florida will stage The Eight: The Reindeer Monologues. “When a doe says no, it means no.” Comet, Dancer and the other reindeer react to charges of sexual harassment levied against Santa in this smart and scandalous holiday show by Jeff Goode. “Arrestingly funny,” says the Village Voice. “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues is a fun and laugh out loud alternative to the normal holiday offerings,” proclaims Behind the Curtain.

Only six performances are planned, on December 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 and 20.

 

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Holly Hagan makes the adult beverages that get The Eight through their monologues (12-18-15)

Bartender 09Jeff Goode’s The Eight: Reindeer Monologues ends its run at Lab Theater on Sunday. The play consists of a series of intelligent, cleverly-crafted speeches by Santa’s sleigh team who are thrown into a state of turmoil amidst a media storm following Vixen’s accusation that Kris Kringle raped her in the toy factory at the North Pole. But there is one part that’s crucial though non-speaking, and it is the bartender who keeps The Eight well-lubricated as they meet the press in the confines of The Red Nose Inn.

The part is played by Holly Hagan, who is extremely happy to be back so soon in another Laboratory Theater production. She Bartender 10was not only in Lab Theater’s last production, playing the role of Angela in Stage Kiss, she was a member of the team of actors who performed Ben Lamoureux’s one-act play, Bird Flew, which was both the judges’ and people’s choice in Lab Theater’s 24-Hour Playwriting Project on December 6. Other parts included Thomasina Coverly in Arcadia, Soupy Sue in Urinetown and Kate Keller in The Miracle Worker.

As rewarding as those parts may have been, Holly loves making adult beverages for distraught reindeer.

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Dena Galyean is memorable as Vixen in Jeff Goode’s ‘Reindeer Monologues’ at Lab Theater (12-17-15)

Vixen 02On stage tonight at Lab Theater in the River District is The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. It’s a dark comedy written by playwright Jeff Goode that explores the un-merry subjects of sexual assault, sexual harassment and the visceral and intellectual reactions we each experience when we hear someone accuse a person we respect and admire of such horrific improprieties.

To set the stage, the reindeer Vixen has accused Santa Claus of raping her in his toy factory at the North Pole. Her allegations set off a media storm, and the other seven members of the elite eight sleigh team speak out, some defending St. Nick while others support the aggrieved Vixen.

Vixen 12Dena Galyean plays the lead, and by the time the audience first lays eyes on her character, they’ve heard from all seven of her stable mates. In the hooves of a lesser talent, there could have been a letdown. But from the instant she enters the theater and makes her way to the stage, Galyean takes command of the room and wins the audience’s heart in a performance reminiscent of Clark Gable heartthrob, Carole Lombard.

Unlike her nemesis, Vixen is avowedly no saint. She has rubbed shoulders with Hugh Hefner at the Vixen 18Playboy mansion, and there are those who say the ex-centerfold invites male attention because that, after all, is what she really craves. As is the case with most victims of sexual assault, abuse and harassment, she is the one on trial for her own sexual past. Victim shaming is not confined to humans. It plagues reindeer too.

At first, Galyean’s Vixen scoffs at the notion she is in any way responsible for her employer’s actions. Vixen 26You have the right to live the life you want without the fear of being assaulted. That means you have the freedom to dress, walk, talk, drink (or not drink), and act the way you choose. The only way to prevent sexual violence is to hold offenders, not survivors, accountable for their actions, and to challenge the thoughts and beliefs of our peers. We speak with our actions.

But Galyean lets the audience see that Vixen’s outrage, indignation and anger over her treatment at the hands of Santa, the press corps and some of her compatriots on Santa’s sleigh team is just a brave façade. Lying beneath the Vixen 30surface is a sense of quiet desperation. Rape Culture is an environment in which sexual violence is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture and perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety. And Galyean is astonishingly effective in revealing the inner conflict experienced by even the strongest of victims of rape, sexual assault and sexual Vixen 37harassment. In a word, her performance is memorable.

Dena is thrilled to be back on stage in her second performance at Lab Theater. She starred with Mike Dinko in this summer’s hit, The Underpants. Other credits include Jane Tate in It Runs in the Family (at Stray Dog Theater in Tinley Park, Illinois), Eleanor in The Middle Ages (at Moraine Valley in Palos Hills, Illinois) and a slurry of other wonderful shows in her beloved home state.

You can see Dena as Vixen tonight and through Sunday. Please see above for dates, times and ticket information.

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Actor James Robinson’s performance in ‘The Eight’ poignantly realistic (12-16-15)

Donner 03The Eight: Reindeer Monologues is billeted as arrestingly funny, and playwright Jeff Goode has indeed crafted a series of hilarious sililoquays revolving around Vixen’s accusations that Santa Claus raped her and is guilty of sexual assault involving one or more other reindeer. But this comedy takes a dark turn when Donner comes center stage to recount his own role in the sordid story that seems to take a page out of the Jerry Sandusky playbook.

Donner 05Director Gary Obeldobel has cast James Robinson in the role. Robinson is very believable as an average, down-on-his-luck working stiff who deigns to live vicariously through his son’s success – especially since his son, Rudolf, is deformed and not likely to amount to much of anything except that Santa has taken a shine to the boy and his glowing red nose. But things go horribly wrong when the less than holy St. Nick repeatedly molests young Rudolf until the latter is reduced to a pathetic catatonic state. Then, to make matters worse, Donner accepts a position on Kringle’s elite sleigh team as compensation for Donner 09keeping Santa’s dirty little secret. But now, Vixen has paid the price for his silence, heightening Donner’s guilt and remorse.

I was an out-of-work herd deer who had to find a way to provide for my family, Donner tells the audience, trying vainly to justify his actions and put a favorable spin on his bad judgment. In spite of his palpable culpability in what’s become of his son, Robinson is able to tug at the audience’s heartstrings by admitting his own failings as a father, a husband and a reindeer. And watching his poignant delivery and pained affectations, it was hard not to imagine the grief experienced by other parents who got swept up by the fame and promise of fortune dangled in Donner 13front of them by the likes of the rich and famous, like Michael Jackson, Sandusky and other well-heeled pedifiles who use their position, power and prestige to lull parents into a false sense of complacency so that they can take advantage of their unsuspecting kids.

James Robinson holds a BFA in Acting from Emerson College. He also studied theater at New York City’s Circle in the Square and Trinity Rep Conservatory in Providence. He has acted and directed a wide variety of shows in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, and is very excited to have his role in The Eight at Lab Theater mark the Donner 11occasion of his Florida debut.

You can see Robinson and the rest of this amazing cast at Lab Theater through December 20. Please see above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information, and continue reading for more stories and news about this production.

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Spotlight on Kate Dirrigl, ‘Reindeer Monologues’ Dancer (12-15-15)

Dancer 04On stage through December 20 at Lab Theater in the River District is Jeff Goode’s The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, and playing the part of Dancer is the delightful Kate Dirrigl.

Dirrigl is perfect for the part. Goode’s Dancer is an ex-ballerina, who found refuge at the North Pole after it became illegal and downright unsafe for reindeer to dance the Nutcracker, Swan Lake and the other classics back in the day. Dirrigl looks and acts the part, delivering many of her lines en pointe in ballet slippers.

Dancer 08Goode conceived of Dancer as a ditzy, adorably clueless Jewish princess. She really does not have much to offer on the subject of Vixen’s allegations that Santa Claus is a serial rapist and pedifile. She’s so bubble-headed, she didn’t even realize the danger she was in when she wandered into Santa’s workshop one time before Vixen went public with her accusations about the horrors he perpetrates in the place where he and his elves make toys for tots.

This is Dirrigl’s Lab Theater debut and it is charming, endearing and funny on multiple levels, and will leave audiences eager for more from this talented young actress. Kate has a B.A. degree in theater performance from the University of Texas Pan American, where she was involved in numerous plays, including Arsenic and Old Lace, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Peter Pan.

Please see above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information.

 

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Patrick Day turns in hilarious performance as redneck reindeer Comet in ‘The Eight’ (12-14-15)

Comet 01The Eight: Reindeer Monologues is on stage at Lab Theater now through December 20. As the name belies, the show consists of a series of eight monologues delivered by the members of Santa’s sleigh team, as they discuss the veracity and propriety of Vixen’s public allegations that Santa raped her in his toy shop at the North Pole.

Combining humor with disquietude, playwright Jeff Goode’s monologues are for the most part hilarious. Nowhere is that more true than with the one delivered by Comet, played by Patrick Day.

Comet 12Day is an engineer by day and thespian by night. He was last seen on the Lab Theater stage playing the bubbly Eduardo in Happy and as Emperor Joseph in Amadeus. He has performed at the Herb Strauss Theater in Sanibel, Theatre Conspiracy in Fort Myers, and Cultural Park Theater in Cape Coral. Some of Patrick’s favorite roles include Greg in Sylvia, George Hay in Moon Over Buffalo, David Kahn in Social Security, Serge in Art, and Matthew Perry in A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody.

For the part of Comet, Day had to channel his inner redneck and, of course, he is not the most sympathetic Comet 14reindeer in the stable. A reformed junkie, he is  now a hardcore, unapologetic conservative who refuses to believe anything derogatory about his benefactor, St. Nick, who rescued him from the gutters, got him into rehab and helped him get and stay clean.

To be sure, the lines that playwright Jeff Goode gives Comet are some of the funniest in the play. But Day wrings even more laughter from the script through his demeanor, delivery and impeccable sense of timing. And in this, he functions as a powerful counterpoint to his antithesis, Kathy Grey’s Blitzen. However, this can somewhat disconcerting for the audience as, in the end, they are laughing at someone who is a blind-eye Comet 18advocate for a serial rapist and child molester. But, hey, even Jerry Sandusky, Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson had their supporters. When it comes to heroes, mentos and role models, people would rather believe a lie that draws a smile than the truth that draws a tear.

It’s powerful issues like these that lie beneath the facade of eight reindeer embroiled in a media storm following one reindeer’s accusations that Santa is an all-around pervert. As one reviewer observed, “the topic of sexual abuse has long been avoided or hidden, and anyone can sympathize with the victim or the company with its Comet 20reputation on the line or the military school trying to save itself from disgrace.” However, when the characters involved are reindeer and the criminal is none other than Santa Claus, the affair is put into a completely different set of Christmas lights.

The Eight is only on stage for a limited time and seating is limited. Please see above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information.

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Spotlight on ‘Reindeer Monologues’ Blitzen, played by Kathy Grey (12-13-15)

Blitzen 04On stage now for a limited engagement at Laboratory Theater of Florida is Jeff Goode’s The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.

As the title belies, this deliciously naughty show consists of a series of eight monologues given by Santa’s reindeer. One of the reindeer has accused jolly St. Nick of sexual assault, and now the elite eight are sharply divided on the propriety of the allegations. No, not whether they’re true or not. But, rather, whether the victim should just keep her mouth shut and fly quietly into the night rather than tarnish the reputation of Kris Kringle given all the Blitzen 08good he has done for so many children and reindeer throughout the ages.

One reindeer who is not on the fence, though, is Blitzen, played by Kathy Grey. A feminist of the first magnitude, she lands squarely on Vixen’s side and is prepared to boycott Christmas until such time as Santa is brought to justice. After all, reindeer have rights, don’t they? But not apparently at the North Pole! “Why are we treated like a piece of venison?” Blitzen laments.

Acknowledging that some of the elite eight and the press cBlitzen 07orps don’t believe Vixen, Blitzen issues a sound rejoinder. “Why would she throw her career away? A prank? PMS? No. A reindeer has a right to her own body. When a doe says no, it means no.”

And this gets at the gravamen of those who have and continue to argue that the victim consented, invited the overtures, was a tease or only said no to Blitzen 12heighten their mutual enjoyment. But, as Blitzen points out in no uncertain terms, “When a doe says no, it means no.”

Although her monologue is more serious than the others, Grey does an admirable job of wringing as much wry humor out of the part as is possible. She starts out as slightly inebriated, but allows her character’s anger, fury and feminist outrage to let her stable mates and the media know that it’s not the booze talking, but her convictions and empathy for her reinsister.

Grey has played Blitzen before, having delivered Jeff Goode’s brilliantly crafted monologue in three previous productions of The Blitzen 14Eight. In Southwest Florida, she has performed in Hot L Baltimore (as Suzy), Marat/Sade (Herald), Side by Side by Sondheim, Rumors (Cookie), Dancing at Lughnasa (Rose), And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little (Ceil), and Love, Loss and What I Wore. She is best known locally for performing numerous times in Theatre Conspiracy’s Kathy & Mo: Parallel Lives with Lauren Drexler-Taylor. Kathy works as the editor of Florida Weekly’s Charlotte County edition.

Please see above for play dates, times and ticket information. Sure, at this time of year, there are Christmas parties, shopping, family and friends to see. But we’re only talking 90 minutes here. You gotta find a way to work The Eight: Reindeer Monologues into your holiday plans.

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Spotlight on ‘Reindeer Monologues’ Hollywood, played by Dale Hoover (12-12-15)

Hollywood 01On stage now at Lab Theater is Jeff Goode’s take on a Christmas story. It’s called The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, and begins with the Dasher complaining that Vixen has placed the institution of Christmas and all of their jobs in jeopardy by making allegations of rape and sexual impropriety against that venerable bastion of good will to men, the saintly Santa Claus himself. What ensues are a series of monologues by the members of Santa’s elite reindeer team. One of that illustrious league is a reindeer by the name of Hollywood.

Hollywood 04Who? Well it’s actually Prancer, who let his success in the eponymous film go to his head. After starring with an illustrious cast that included the likes of Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman and Abe Vigoda, he really thought that his career would take off. And now the hoof writing is on the wall. If some screenwriter, director, producer or other Hollywood 06Hollywood exec is interested in doing another reindeer movie, they’re going to want to have Vixen play herself in a tell-all about the goings-on at the North Pole.

In playwright Jeff Goode’s world, Hollywood is a metaphor for all the self-absorbed, self-involved egocentric people whose mantra in today’s social-media-driven world is “Look at me! Look at me!” In fact, researchers like Elliott Panek and Sara Konrath at the University of Michigan have found tHollywood 08hat our obsession with social media is mostly about vanity, egocentricity and self-promotion and, like Hollywood in The Eight, 24% of us miss real life events because we’re too busy trying to talk about them on social media.

Played by Dale Hoover, Hollywood is not concerned that Santa may have raped his stable mate. He’s not aggrieved for the emotional pain Vixen has suffered in Santa’s toy shop, or the turmoil she is going through as a result of going public with her accusations. No, Hollywood is pissed because Vixen has taken the spotlight off of him and usurped his opportunities and plans. So, through the character of Hollywood 09Hollywood, Goode is compelling each of us to examine the extent to which we are willing and capable to put our own self-interest aside, to stand in the hoof-prints of another, feel what she feels, and take a stand on a cause because it is the right thing to do.

But enough about Hollywood and playwright Jeff Goode. What makes the character work is the Dale Hoover’s portrayal of the droopy, depressed, self-centered Prancer. He has played roles in Hollywood 03Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead, A Position of Relative Importance, Neighborhood 3, Amadeus, The Government Inspector, On Golden Pond, Othello, Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. When not performing on stage, Dale can be found performing in a classroom. Hoover is a professor of humanities at Florida SouthWestern State College.

Please see above for play dates, times and ticket information, and continue reading to see more articles and reviews on Jeff Goode’s The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.

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Spotlight on ‘Reindeer Monologues” Cupid, Matt DeNoncour (12-12-15)

Cupid 04On stage for a limited engagement at the River District’s Lab Theater is The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. The play was written by Jeff Goode, who has crafted eight clever and imaginatively-conceived monologues that the actors in this accomplished cast deliver with aplomb and penasche. That’s especially true of Matt DeNoncour, who plays the role of Santa’s reindeer Cupid.

So you have to ask yourself why Santa would name one of the reindeer on his stellar sleigh team Cupid. When Jeff Goode asked himself this question, he came to the only conclusion that he could. Cupid is gay. Mais oui.

Cupid 08In this play, Santa has been very, very naughty. And not in a good way. One of his reindeer has accused the dirty old man of rape. It’s not Cupid. Apparently, we learn, Santa does not roll that way. But the opinated Cupid has no problem telling the audience what he knows about the accusations and his employer’s unseemly behavior.

Goode’s Cupid is an outspoken, highly-effected queen Cupid 11complete with pink boa, lisp and cackling voice. Keeping it real, he is a caricature that bears little resemble to the way in which the vast majority of gay reindeer dress and act. But this is comedy bordering on farce, so Goode can be foregiven his excesses. Besides, the point of the exercise is to draw attention to some of the challenges faced by the LGBT community in the Cupid 13workplace and, derivately, their heightened sensitivity to victims of sexual harassment and exploitation.

DeNoncour’s Queen Cupid is hilarious. In fact, DeNoncour cracks himself up, dissolving into a puddle of uncontrollable laughs and giggles on the stage floor right before the audience’s eyes, proving once more that a healthy dose of laughter and quirky sense of humor is often the only way in which to deal with horrible people and the abominal situations they create.

Like Mike Dinko, Matt DeNoncour keeps getting better and Cupid 17better with each succeeding role. And toward that end, Matt has kept himself busy since arriving in Southwest Florida. He was just on stage at Lab Theater in Stage Kiss, where he played Kevin and got smoochy with Annette Trossbach. Last season, he played the austere Auschwitz survivor Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank. Other favorite onstage credits include The American Dream (Daddy), Chicago (Ensemble), Our Town (Professor Williard), Love’s Labours Lost (Dumain), The House of Blue Leaves (Artie Cupid 02Shaughnessy), Merry Wives of Windsor (Doc Caius).

DeNoncour is also an award-winning set and lighting designer. He received a TAG nomination in lighting for Angels in America Part I & II, and both a TAG and OEA nomination for Floyd Collins. Other design and lighting projects include The House of Blue Leaves (Scenic), Crash! Boom! Pow! (Lighting/Scenic) and Avenue Q (Lighting).

You can see Matt DeNoncour as Cupid at Lab Theater through December 20. But act now as seat is limited and shows are already beginning to sell out.

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Spotlight on Mike Dinko as Dasher in the ‘Reindeer Monologues’ (12-11-15)

Dasher 01On stage now for a limited engagement at Laboratory Theater of Florida is Jeff Goode’s The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.

As the title belies, this deliciously naughty show consists of a series of eight monologues given by Santa’s reindeer. One of the reindeer has accused jolly St. Nick of sexual assault, and now the elite eight are sharply divided on the propriety of the allegations. No, not whether they’re true or not. But, rather, whether the victim should just keep her mouth shut and fly quietly into the night rather than tarnish the reputation of Kris Kringle, given all the Dasher 03good he has done for so many children and reindeer throughout the ages.

Does this sound familiar? Even the most socially unaware among us will have no trouble drawing parallels to the parish priest or Catholic bishop accused of molesting young boys. Or to a president who took advantage of an intern, or legion of women who claim to have been drugged and raped by Aldous Huxley a/k/a Bill Cosby. In so many Dasher 05cases like these, there are those who fervently feel that the victim should meekly suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than tarnish an institution like the Catholic Church, the presidency, a renowned university, or a legend like Joe Paterno (who may have turned a blind eye to the sexual molestations perpetrated by Jerry Sandusky on Paterno’s watch).

It is a stroke of genius to explicate the complex issues, reactions and emotions surrounding cases of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and exploitation in the context of Santa and his eight tiny reindeer. (Oh, Rudolf is involved Dasher 07too. Poor thing.) So don’t be misled into thinking that this is lighthearted comedic fare. There is a dark and sinister underbelly to this play, and Dinko lets the audience know this from the moment the stage lights come up to illuminate him sitting in a comfortable red armchair, knocking back a scotch on the rocks, which the bartender repeatedly refills. And it is Dasher, played brilliantly by Mike Dinko, who gives voice to those who feel it is incumbent on victims to stay mum for the greater good. “It’s what we do,” Dinko’s Dasher emphatically maintains. “It’s what we Dasher 09do,” repeats Santa’s lead reindeer, who drives home his point by telling the story of how he once flew in a blizzard head first into the side of a skyscraper that wasn’t there the year before. After falling out of his harness and plummeting 60 stories to the ground, he got back up, dusted himself off and rejoined the team for the good of Christmas and all the children who were expecting to find gifts under the tree in the morning.

Dinko clearly savors the siloquay that Jeff Goode has given him, and he plays the part of the classic enabler Dasher 002to the max (as the audience discovers late in this 90-minute production). What else is clear is that Dinko’s skills and talent as an actor continue to improve by leaps and bounds. He was good as Mr. Kraler in The Diary of Anne Frank just a few short months ago. He was better in his first lead role as Theo Maske in The Underpants this past summer. But he really, really comes into his own as Dasher. Maybe it’s the influence of Director Gary Obeldobel.

Please see above for play dates, times and ticket information. Sure, at this time of year, there are Christmas parties, shopping, and family and friends to see. But we’re only talking 90 minutes here. You gotta find a way to work The Eight: Reindeer Monologues into your holiday plans.

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Get tickets now to ‘The Eight: Reindeer Monologues’ (12-06-15)

The Eight 01Up next at the Laboratory Theater of Florida is The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.

“When a doe says no, it means no.” In this delightfully irreverent holiday comedy, Santa is accused of impropriety with one or more reindeer. Audiences get to judge for themselves, hearing different reactions from eight of the reindeer in this entertaining and memorable adult comedy, which the Village Voice labeled “arrestingly funny.”

“The Eight: Reindeer Monologues is a fun and laugh out loud alternative to the normal holiday offerings,” adds Behind the Curtain. Performances will be on December 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. and on December 19 and 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available HERE. But be forewarned: the show is already 75 percent sold out. So don’t wait until later to reserve your seats or else you’ll get coal in your stocking.

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  1. Michael Hennessey says:

    Saw the show opening night and was truly amazed. After many years in the Theatre, most in New York, I settled here in S.W. Fl. and have immersed myself in the local fare both as Actor/Director/Writer and audience member. “Reindeer” was the most complete production I have witnessed. I laughed, I mean “belly” laughed many times and when the curtain came down after ninety minutes I wanted a second act. Kudos to the cast and crew and The Lab Theatre for a wonderful evening.

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