On Stage: Elf

I have yet to see the movie “Elf.” I’ve heard good things about it. I suppose I’ll get around to it some day.

Truth is, I don’t watch a lot of Christmas movies. I’ve never seen “A Christmas Story,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “The Santa Clause 1, 2 or 3,” “Jingle All The Way” or “The Christmas Shoes.” I’ve seen bits and pieces of some of them, but I’ve never watched them from beginning to end. I have seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Scrooged.” I will stop and watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” when channel surfing.

As a general rule I prefer my holiday entertainment to come in half-hour, animated doses. I’ll let Rudolf go for an hour, but that’s it.

So I wasn’t all that excited when I heard there was a live musical version of Will Ferrell’s 2003 holiday hit coming to the Fox Theatre. But after weeks of sitting in the basement watching movie screeners I decided it was time to get out of the house and enjoy some live theater.

 Matt Kopec (Buddy) and the cast of “Elf The Musical.” Photo by Joan Marcus

Matt Kopec (Buddy) and the cast of “Elf The Musical.” Photo by Joan Marcus

“Elf,” as we are told by none other than Santa Claus (Gordon Gray) himself, is the story of Buddy (Matt Kopec). After sneaking a ride in Santa’s sleigh, the infant Buddy is adopted and raised by Santa’s elves in Christmastown.

When the truth about Buddy’s heritage comes out, Santa recommends the wide-eyed, naïve young man go to New York City to look up his father. As every Christmas story since the dawn of time would have it, Buddy’s father Walter (Matthew Alan Smith) is a no-nonsense businessman who doesn’t have time for the frivolity of Christmas — or his wife Emily (Jane Bruce) and son Michael (Tyler Altomari).

You don’t have to have seen every Christmas movie ever made to know where this is headed: Buddy meets a girl (Kate Hennies), Buddy thaws dad’s frozen heart, Buddy saves the day. That didn’t need a spoiler alert, did it?

If I had to sum up my opinion of “Elf” in one word it would be this: Cute. It’s a cute story with cute songs, cute costumes, cute dance numbers and cute sets. But they’re not outstanding songs, sets or dance numbers.

“Elf” is fine but it’s not great theater. There’s nothing here to make you leap from your seat and cheer. One assumes that “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” is supposed to be a showstopper but it’s no “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

Matt Kopec, looking more like a young Martin Short than Will Ferrell, puts plenty of energy into his performance. The rest of the cast also do good work.

Like I said, it’s cute.  “Elf” is a jolly little trifle suitable for all ages.

“Elf” runs through Dec. 29. http://www.fabulousfox.com/



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