Posted November 19, 2014 | © Photo by Joan Marcus
Kicking off the 2014-2015 Broadway at the Bass season, Elf tells the hilarious story of Buddy, an orphaned child who mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag and is subsequently raised at the North Pole. With actor Will Ferrell having made such a strong comedic impression in the 2003 hit motion picture of the same name, Eric Williams (in the musical's title role) had some awfully big, green-curly-toed shoes to fill ... and on opening night, he did NOT disappoint. Donned in a short "seasonally appropriate" fur-trimmed green uniform with two-toned stocking tights (deliciously reminiscent of retro Fruit Stripe Gum), the gregarious 6'2" Williams elicited frequent jolly laughs from theatergoers which culminated in an enthusiastic end-of-show standing ovation at curtain call.
After amicably parting ways with the other "bizarrely happy" elves along with an exasperated, single-malt-cocoa-drinking Santa (Ken Clement) who throws out TCU love by plunking down 50 bucks on the Frogs, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City in hopes of finding his birth father Walter (Jesse Sharp). But instead of spending his time making snow angels, eating Tollhouse cookie dough, and snuggling, the cheerfully-optimistic elf instead encounters an over-busy workaholic dad, a cynical lack of Christmas spirit, and an unexpectedly fake Santa who "sits on a throne of lies" at Macy's department store.
Glittering like an angel, however, Buddy's reluctant love interest Jovie (Maggie Anderson) plays an endearing straight-man Abbott to his delightfully wide-eyed Costello. Newly-acquired step mom Emily (Lexie Dorsett-Sharp) and little brother Michael (Tyler Altomari; alternately played by Harper Brady) are the glue that binds together the pieces of the slapstick puzzle, especially during their heart-warming duets "I'll Believe in You" and "There is a Santa Claus."
A backlit cityscape incorporating two-dimensional, obliquely-askew, sliding set pieces gives the production a pop-up book feel, and the frosty pale blue of the Candy Land-style toy-shop background festively showcases a rainbow of bold costumes in deeply-saturated bright colors. This well-written, well-performed show is rife with one-liners, word play, and double entendre; and watching a dancing chorus line of elves (ahem, actors on their knees) participating in fun jazzy-themed choreography makes for pure 'elfin magic.'
It's likely to make you feel all sparklejollytwinklejingley inside.
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