Fans of the film will love this faithful musical stage version of Elf, a show about Buddy the Elf, a human brought up by elves in the North Pole, who travels to New York to find his birth father, falls in love with a pretty girl and helps save his father’s company, while guffawing around and making lots of elf-like mistakes and assumptions.
The children in the audience immediately recognise Simon Lipkin in the role of Buddy as the actor who took the starring role in the festive family film Nativity Rocks! He is in his element as the ginger-wig wearing over-sized elf playing the character with plenty of physical humour, excellent timing and some cracking songs.
The show opens to a chorus of dancing elf-sized elves. My daughter was perplexed for the first few minutes, whispering in my ear about how short they were, that perhaps they were children, and then – spotting the facial hair on some of them – finally concluding that they were adults on their knees with elf legs tied around their waist. It is a fantastic illusion and one of many moments that the young people in the audience are really drawn in. Thankfully for the hard-working ensemble, they don’t have to stay long on their knees and reappear as New Yorkers, making slick work of Liam Steel’s exhilarating choreography.
There are excellent performances from Rebecca Lock as Emily Hobbs, Tom Chambers as Walter Hobbs and, on the night I saw the show, Logan Clark as Michael. Dermot Canavan plays the store manager with great comic timing, and Kim Ismay as Walter’s long suffering assistant Deb, is particularly watchable.
With music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin the numbers are toe-tapping and catchy, while being pleasingly original. The book by Bob Martin and the late Thomas Meehan is full of gags and warmheartedness, with lines such as “While they deck the halls, you dream about decking him” which appeal to the adults in the audience.
With Santa in a flying sleigh at the end and snowfall on the stalls, this is a great Christmas show to take all the family too.