Santa Claus Is Coming Out this Christmas in Jeffrey Solomon’s hilarious, beautifully acted solo-mock-u-mentary now playing at San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre.


In the course of its eighty minutes, Santa Claus Is Coming out reveals the “true story” behind the scandal known internationally as Santagate, with Solomon embodying each and every character—minus the conspicuously absent St. Nick.

It all starts with tiny tot Gary, an adorable lad with only one toy on his Christmas list, a Barbi-esque doll called Brenda Ann. Unfortunately, when Christmas morning rolls around, what Gary ends up getting instead of Brenda Ann is a truck (and how many of us has that happened to?). Undaunted, Gary requests a Dream Date Norm the following Christmas, and once again finds his hopes dashed, leading this on-the-way-to-gay child to write Santa a letter which can be easily summarized in a single word, “Why?”

Gary’s heartfelt cry of despair pierces Santa’s gay heart and provides him with the necessary push … out of the closet he’s been hiding in and into the tabloids only too willing to spread the news.

It turns out that Santa’s heart belongs, not to Mrs. Claus but to Pinocchio descendent Giovanni Geppedo. (One surmises that it’s not Giovanni’s nose that grows when he lies—with his “Santa Bello” that is.)


Solomon brings to life Gary, Giovanni, and a dozen or so other characters with only a hat or wig or spangled nose (and a whole bunch of talent) to differentiate one from the other. There’s:

•Cheyenne—Gary’s sassy, dreadlocked African-American best friend, who totally supports Gary’s right to play with dolls

•Mary Ellen Banfield—The antigay activist homemaker on a mission to protect our children from the “gay agenda,” one which included establishing a no-fly zone for sleighs and encouraging Americans to keep fires burning in their fireplaces to keep Santa out of our chimneys. At one point, Mary Ellen uses puppets to show a pedophilic Santa “recruiting” one of our nation’s children, a sequence both hilarious and scarily true to those homophobic wingnuts.

•Rudolph—the straight (but not narrow-minded) head of Santa’s “Misfit Task Force” and Santa’s staunchest supporter at the North Pole. (After all, he knows what it’s like to be different.)


Other major characters in Solomon’s spot-on satire include Santa’s longtime agent Sidney Green (aka “The Little Jew Who Saved Christmas”); Stonewall vet José, who recalls that society-changing night in 1969; a bespangled Latino Boys’ Town clubgoer; Gary’s confused parents, each with quite different reactions to their son’s “differentness;” a homophobic chief elf who learns a lesson in tolerance; and the actress whose role as Mrs. Claus (aka Santa’s other beard) has been her greatest acting challenge.

As the Santagate controversy escalates, everyone chimes in, including the children of the world, whose questions to Santa (e.g. “Why do lesbians have short hair?) accompany a slide montage (and are the only voices not created live on stage by Solomon).

Under Joe Brancato’s ingenious direction, Santa Claus Is Coming Out provides a showcase for its writer-performer’s talent and versatility and makes serious points without ever becoming heavy-handed. The characters Solomon creates are so real and distinct that we could probably recognize them even without the accessory the show’s star uses to differentiate each—Cheyenne’s swinging dreadlocks, Mary Ellen’s unfashionably oversized glasses, Rudolph’s spangly nose, etc. (Kudos to David J. Medina’s properties.)

Production manager/scenic designer Bret Young has created the production’s Christmassy set (lots of big wrapped Christmas presents). Thumbs up also go to Arnulfo Moldonado’s costumes, Michelle Caron’s lighting, Jason Webb and Andrew Ingkavet’s original music and voiceovers, Rich Chris’s story book art, David Derr’s graphic and projection design, Jull Du Boff’s sound design, and Medina’s set dressing. Zachary Zpitzer is technical supervisor and Beth Gallagher is stage manager.

Once again, with Santa Claus Is Coming Out, Diversionary proves itself at the forefront of LGBT theatre and provides ample reason for a road trip south to discover San Diego’s thriving live theater scene.

Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Boulevard, San Diego.
–Steven Stanley
December 5, 2010
Photos: Bree Warner

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