Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Fake Santas join Buddy the Elf (played by (Matt Owen) to express their sorrow about the lack of Christmas spirit lately in the production of ELF – The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle.
Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Buddy (Matt Owen) learns from Santa that he is not an elf, afterall, but a human, during the production of "ELF — The Musical" at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle.
“ELF The Musical” is so sugary sweet that watching it could make you feel like you’ve downed a whole gallon of syrup.
But the G-rated spectacular is chock full of lively fun and Matt Owen’s role as Buddy the Elf is so infectiously good that if you’re not sharing Buddy’s grin halfway through it, you’re probably related to Scrooge.
The production continues at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle until Dec. 31.
Like the 2003 holiday film starring Will Ferrell of the same name, “ELF” is about a baby who accidentally crawled into Santa’s toy bag and was transported to the North Pole. Buddy grows up thinking he’s an elf, but soon discovers he’s out of place and Santa tells him the truth. In good time, he’s off to New York City to find the family he never knew he had and give the city back its lost Christmas spirit.
In the musical, there’s creative use for the other elves to wear shoes on the actor’s knees to give Buddy more height and all of the costumes and sets, by David Woodlard and Matthew Smucker, respectively, take you to either the North Pole with perfect pastels or the streets of New York with great shadows and use of lines.
Owen is the real treat, stealing nearly every scene to the point that Will Ferrell surely would be proud. Probably the top moment is when Buddy encounters a Chinese restaurant full of Santas on Christmas Eve, depressed about the lack of Christmas spirit at the opening of Act Two. They sing, “Nobody Cares About Santa,” with a jolly tone that would make a little kid stand up and say, “I do care!”
The song “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” could also give “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” a run for its money in most nonsensical word in a musical.
Kendra Kassebaum does an admirable job as Jovie, the cynical department store elf who falls for Buddy. But she can’t hold a candle to my memories of doe-eyed Zooey Deschanel, who created the role in the movie.
“ELF The Musical” was contrived as a musical on Broadway in 2010 and has found a revival during the holiday times. The movie never featured any original music, but the musical was able to adapt the content of the film so well that the movie’s spirit is still there. It’s safe to say that if you can’t stand the movie, you won’t appreciate the musical.
The production found its home at the 5th Avenue Theatre this season thanks, in part, to executive producer and artistic director David Armstrong, who noted in a speech before last Thursday’s grand opening that Seattle’s production is the only one in the country right now, besides another stint on Broadway.
Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.5thavenue.org or by phone at 1-(888)-5TH-4TIX.