Through December 22 |
ELF THE MUSICAL Daemen College/MusicalFare Theatre
There’s a tradition in British theatre of the Christmas Pantomime, the “panto,” a mix of hilarity, cross-dressing and the kind of low comedy so familiar on the British stage.
Most American theaters don’t let themselves go that way, as the subsidized stages across the pond do.
However, MusicalFare’s entertaining and very well-done “Elf the Musical” is close.
It’s a musical built on the David Berenbaum’s movie “Elf.”
It’s a silly show although the kids (and the adults with them) appeared to like the performance.
Director and choreographer Michael Walline has a pro to work with, the Alleyway Theatre’s incoming artistic director, Chris J. Handley, as Buddy the Elf.
Thomas Meehan, Bob Martin, Matthew Sklar and Chad Begulin took the play and put in the sharps and the flats for the movie.
The MusicalFare production uses a modified script used by some earlier stage productions.
The premise is that during a visit to a home, a baby climbed into Santa’s bag and was taken back to the North Pole where he grows up in Christmastown, the company town for the annual toy trip.
Eventually, the grown boy learns by accident that he’s “human” and not an elf.
The opening scene makes the differences clear with costumes with elf shoes on the knees of cast members crawling on their knees to emphasize how much larger Buddy is than the elves.
Santa (Nicholas Lama) admits knowing about Buddy’s human status and tells him his mother died but he has a father who lives in New York City.
Since this show is clearly aimed at the New York City theater audience, there are local jokes, like pollution in New Jersey or Santa’s North Pole in Macy’s.
Buddy walks from the North Pole to Manhattan and walks into his father’s office, book publisher Walter (Louis Colaiacovo).
Dad doesn’t believe his fatherhood, but Stepmom (Jennifer Mysliwy) must have a reason for suspecting it’s true since she pulls out a hair and does a DNA test.
This family, Dad, Mom and son Michael (Johnny Kiener) are having problems because Dad is always working.
Buddy falls in love with one of Macy’s workers, Jovie (Stevie Jackson), who has come from California to Manhattan to make her fortune and isn’t doing well.
The DNA test shows Dad he’s a double-Dad and he tells the story of the college girlfriend, Buddy’s mother.
Since this is a musical, you can expect a happy ending and you get one.
The family gets together, starts a new business for Dad and they are clearly going to live happily ever after, of course, after a few twists and turns.
There are some funny bits, including that Santa doesn’t have reindeer anymore because PETA forced Santa to change propulsion method.
There are some strong performances in the show and a very strong company for the production numbers.
That includes “Happy All the Time,” which opens the show.
The big production number is “Sparklejollytwinklejingley,” with everybody.
There’s also a number with seemingly every department store Santa in a local bar drinking, celebrating the end of the holiday season, a chorus line of red cloth and fake hair with “Nobody Cares About Santa.”
Buddy proves that isn’t true.
The finale proves how many good tap dancers there are locally and working for MusicalFare.
“Elf the Musical” isn’t the kind of show which will have you pondering as you leave the theater, although there were clearly parents and grandparents talking to happy kids about what they had just seen.
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