Tony Counts has been camping in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area and hanging out with elk to research his part in the production of "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues," which opens Thursday at Steamboat Springs Mountain Theater.
"What I have learned is you have to encompass the roles you play as an actor," Counts said. "But the mating has been a little difficult. I'm a hot property out in the field."
The premise of the play is that Vixen is suing Santa Claus for sexual harassment, and as a result, each of Santa's eight reindeer give their take on what actually happened.
"It's definitely an R-rated show. No children are allowed because they really won't believe in Santa when the show is done," said Kelly Anzalone, director, producer, lighting and set designer - not to mention owner of Steamboat Springs Mountain Theater. "If they do still believe in him, they'll think he's a perverted old man."
The play was written by Jeff Goode and is being performed in at least 40 theaters across the country this holiday season, Anzalone said.
"It's really harsh, but I know how to go to the line and step right over it," he said.
"Comet was a really bad-boy reindeer. He's on drugs and been to rehab. And he almost got shot because he stole liquor and got boozed out of his mind."
Prancer now goes by the name "Hollywood." It's a role Counts thinks was made for him.
"I think they've been waiting for a brother to be in the cast," said Counts, who is black.
His favorite part of the production is working with Michael David, who begged for the part of the gay reindeer, Cupid.
"To request to be the gay reindeer - that shows talent and ambition above the rest of us," Counts said. "It makes me want to follow him around the hay - from a safe distance."
David's character has known about the sexual harassment incident but doesn't take a stance on the issue.
"Cupid is not publicly endorsing the harassment suit but is not disputing the fact that it does exist," David said. "In fact, Cupid is the only one that Santa hasn't tried to molest."
Audience members should be cautioned that the play features foul language and risque topics.
"You have to go with an open mind and realize that it is all make believe," Anzalone said. "If you read it and thought it was serious, you would just cry."