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  • The Acting Education of a Mall Santa

    Each December morning I don a fat suit, white wig and big fake beard. I push my arms into the sleeves of a red velvet suit, and sit and pose with hordes of holiday shoppers willing to pay for a picture with Old Saint Nick. Being Santa has been a performing arts education. It involves staying in character, relating to all walks of life and trying to make sure everyone leaves happy. For actors wanting to glean insight from the experience of a mall Santa, here’s what I’ve learned.
    First, getting the voice down is essential. The sweet spot is somewhere between gruff and grumbly, and kind and warm. You want to sound older and experienced, not terrifying and inhuman. Being able to maintain your voice for long periods of time is as important as finding it. Long hours of saying “ho, ho, ho” and “merry Christmas” takes its toll on your vocal chords, so you don’t want to bellow at your loudest. Otherwise you might find yourself sounding like Squiggy from “Laverne & Shirley,” as I have a few times.
    Stamina is a huge part of portraying Santa Claus. Besides long hours of sitting on your behind and constantly calling out to potential customers, you also have to lift and wield all

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