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Wednesday, July 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 64.0° F  Mostly Cloudy


Bricks Theatre brings Santaland Diaries to a much bigger stage at the Barrymore
Bitter elf

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The Bricks Theatre's letter to Santa this year asks for a bigger audience. A much, much bigger audience.

The company returns to familiar holiday ground with The Santaland Diaries, but in a much larger venue, the Barrymore Theatre. It opens Dec. 9.

"It's a huge, big step up," says director and company cofounder George Gonzalez. It's also part of a bold new business plan for the Bricks Theatre, which was born in the spring of 2009.

The Santaland Diaries premiered in 1992 on National Public Radio, as a reading by humorist David Sedaris. The essay recounted his experience working as a Macy's department store elf in New York City, and included commentary on the holidays. In 1996 Joe Mantello adapted the essay into a one-man, one-act play that quickly became a favorite of regional theaters.

The Bricks Theatre first produced the show in 2009 to sold-out audiences at the Frequency, the music venue at 121 W. Main St. This year, "We're working in a place five times the size," says Gonzalez.

Actor R. Peter Hunt returns to the role of Crumpet, Macy's most disgruntled elf. The production will have more elaborate set pieces and costuming. It's also the first production in a conventional theater space for the company.

"One of the difficult things in starting a new theater company in Madison is legitimacy, and how seriously people take you, and where you perform," says Gonzalez.

Unlike other troupes, the Bricks Theatre has decided to grow as a commercial venture, rather than a nonprofit. That means the company won't be able to receive foundation dollars.

"Our plan now is to maybe get a small business grant, because we'd like to start launching the entertainment side of the company, where we do private shows," says Gonzalez.

The Bricks already has a steady fan base, he says. "Hopefully we'll be able to reach a bigger audience by performing at the Barrymore."

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