I like to think that among the classic roles for an actor (you know Lear, Willy Loman and the like) there is another one that even some of the greats haven't attempted - Santa. Although I haven't done King Lear or Death of a Salesman I have played Santa before.
To the uninitiated Santa is just Santa but, to a veteran of the corporate entertainment game, Santa is a multi-faceted character. You have trad Santa, naughty Santa, Kiwi Santa and Satan Claws to name a few. I've done all of those Santas, and more, but there's one I've never done before: retail Santa.
You know the one - the Santa in the mall or the department store. Usually an old guy in a costume of varying quality with a level of twinkle in his eye that corresponds to how close to Christmas it gets - 4 weeks out it sparkles, 4 days out countless kids tugging on the beard has dimmed it somewhat.
I've normally avoided Retail Santa for that reason but when a chance came up for me to be David Jones' Wellington Santa for a couple of days I jumped at it for a whole heap of reasons:
It was a kids and pet Santa. Both could come and visit and get their photos taken
It was only for a couple of days.
It was at David Jones. Having worked at the store's predecessor, Kirks, and always having made a pilgrimage as a child to the Kirks Santa it seemed like it was destined.
It was awesome to meet all the pets - all dogs. I love dogs and so I got to play with them all day. And then there were the kids. Usually as a corporate Santa of some type my audience is adults. Santa isn't real to them. But for lots of the kids I WAS Santa. So there was responsibility but also lots of fun. They had questions for me and present orders and I got to show them a few things they never knew Santa could do - like the snowflake fist bump.
Especially satisfying was helping a little person to overcome their shyness with Santa. For a certain type of kid Santa is pretty scary. He's a stranger, for starters, beardy and huge. So you often have to win them over.
They were long days and I'm not sure how some of those old gents manage them. At the same time, though, it's a cool way to remind a jaded adult about the magic of Christmas.