A Broadway musical made of the 2003 Will Ferrell comedy, Elf? Inevitable.
Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan took the basic elements from the film, softened one of the major characters, added more “Christmas spirit” and music by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, and came up with Elf, the Musical. Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse has a production running through Dec. 23.
Santa Claus (a dry Anthony Martin) greets the audience and invites them to listen to the story of Buddy, the Elf (a super-caffeinated David Bradbury). It seems that Buddy crawled into Santa’s sack one Christmas Eve and crawled out at the North Pole, where he’s raised by elves. Thirty years later, the 6 foot-plus tall Buddy is shocked to discover he isn’t a real elf, and soon he’s off to New York to search for his real parents.
What he finds is workaholic father Walter Hobbs (Keene Hudson) and neglected but loving stepmother Emily (Ambreen Satia) and stepsister Michael (Sylvia Whitbrook). He also finds a love interest in Macy’s store elf Jovie (Kaela Mariano). He does pretty well for someone having lived the sheltered life of an elf.
Buddy is taken in temporarily by the Hobbs family till Walter throws him out after a bad day at the office. Buddy screws up his date with Jovie, too. Top that all off with Santa crashing his sleigh in New York and you have a situation that only Buddy can fix.
Elf, the Musical is a paint-by-numbers show. It hits all the holiday notes, but once you scratch the surface the machination is evident.
Director Aja Gianola-Norris has a good cast doing their best with very shallowly-written characters. Bradbury makes Buddy his own, and you can’t help but smile at his cartoonish antics. But the broadness with which every other performance is delivered makes Buddy seem not such a fish-out-of-water (Martin’s Santa being a notable exception). The show’s biggest laughs were delivered by its smallest member—William Young as the tot from hell on Santa’s lap.
It’s a colorful show with a nice production and costume design and a few good numbers (“Nobody Cares About Santa”, “Never Fall in Love (with an Elf)”). There’s also a bit of adult humor embedded that you hope goes over the kids’ heads.
Elf, the Musical is more of a stocking stuffer than a full-out Christmas gift.
‘Elf, the Musical’ runs through Dec. 23 in the GK Hardt Theatre at 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa. Thur.-Sat., 7:30pm; Sat & Sun, 2pm. $19–$51. 707.523.4185. 6thstreeetplayhouse.com.