I believe it was Olivier who said, aside from Hamlet the other truly great role for an actor is Santa Claus.
This holiday season I was fortunate enough to be Hamlet, er.., Santa!
To set the tone, here’s a short transcript of a conversation from the film “Miracle on 34th Street” between a young janitor Alfred (or Albert?) and the real Kris Kringle in the Macy’s locker room(!).
Santa: Do you enjoy impersonating me?
Alfred/Albert: Oh, yeah..
A/A: I don’t know. It’s.. When I give packages to little kids, I like to watch their faces get that.. that Christmas look all of a sudden. It makes me feel kind of good and important.
Well, when I ventured out into downtown Chicago on behalf of Big Teeth Productions with my elf navigator Jill to distribute this year’s holiday gifts, I didn’t see any little kids in any of the business offices, but I certainly saw faces getting that Christmas look all of a sudden.
Plenty of that.. and brief terror, kindhearted pity, concern, but surprisingly no discernible scorn or direct mockery. Overwhelmingly; however, people were expressively pleased to see even a thin Santa Claus wandering about, squinting for addresses.
Throughout that whirlwind day, I posed for photos, greeted pleasantly bewildered clients, waved to hosts of honking motorists, added unexpected merriment to a lunchtime pizza buffet, and generally bathed in the very real goodwill that even our city’s most hurried, busy citizens offered unprompted.
In playing Santa Claus for Big Teeth Productions this year, I found myself the unexpected recipient of an overwhelming response of warm and positivity that stands as one of my cherished holiday experiences and a special gift.
To be or not to be… If someone asks you to dress up like Santa Claus.. Be!!