Buddy the Elf discovers he is an adopted 'human' baby from New York City and sets off on an adventure to find his biological father who has no idea of his son’s existence. Along the way Buddy inspires those around him to feel the spirit of Christmas, falls in love with his department store colleague and ignites the relationship between his father, step-mother and brother. However, the familiar story isn’t exactly the story we receive.
Uplifts the soul and feeds the positive vibrations of the holiday season
Is Elf the Musical trying to be something it shouldn’t be? With complete plot changes and modern gimmicks thrown into scenes (such as Santa using an iPad for his naughty and nice list), it really comes across as mundane and unnecessary. The reason the world fell in love with the 2003 motion picture is because it was quirky, fun and completely out of the box. However the stage production tries to incorporate pantomime-esque slapstick comedy that falls flat or leaves us questioning- was that supposed to be funny? Yes, the production is pushing towards a younger demographic, however the nostalgia of the movie is what drove us all to love it initially. Further disappointment comes when discovering key characters have been removed from the show such as Papa Elf. His traditional introduction to the story of Buddy, is now given to Santa who opens the show in an overdramatic, Dr. Suess fashion. We also miss out on the character of Miles Finch. The talented children’s author and 'villain' is now replaced with a a stolen draft of a book by Chris Mass and yes, the puns were overused to death.
What Elf captures well is the essence of Christmas and the joy that it sparks between families, relationships and friends. Regardless that the stage production is not exactly the story of the movie, it is clear to see that it has heart. Buddy (Simon Lipkin) shines through with perfect excitement, energy and amusement which pulls at the heartstrings of the audience members. From tickle fights to eating spaghetti with maple syrup, it is clear to see the character of Buddy is well and truly in safe hands. This too can be said for Jovie (Georgina Castle). Her sharp tongue and mellow attitude blends well with Buddy as they perform together with bonding chemistry between the two as they work in harmony. It is a pleasure to hear them both sing individually and together.
The ensemble really brings the show together, especially in numbers such as Nobody Cares about Santa Claus and Sparklejollytwinklejingley (yes, you read that correctly). The dynamics of the cast's vocals, incorporated with the outrageously enjoyable choreography really makes Elf the Musical thrive and stand out in the best light. The chorus alone should be commended for their enthusiasm and commitment to each individual character they portray- even if they are on their knees doing star jumps as elves! If I have one wish for the ensemble it would be to see more diversity upon the stage.
The finale of Elf is a spectacle in itself. An ending that uplifts the soul and feeds the positive vibrations of the holiday season. Elf the Musical is performing at the Dominion for eight weeks only and will soon be flying back to the North Pole! So put on your best Christmas jumper and let the holiday season kick off in style.