OGDEN — Looking for the best way to bring in some Christmas cheer? Head to Ziegfeld Theater in Ogden and come enjoy Elf the Musical directed by Caleb Parry. Based on the 2003 New Line Cinema film written by David Berenbaum, Elf the Musical provides many of the great laughs and Christmas excitement from the film but through live theatre. With book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, Music by Matthew Sklar and Lyrics by Chad Beguelin, Elf the Musical was first produced in 2010 but is quickly becoming a Christmas classic that only Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins won’t love.
To quickly recap the story of Elf, Buddy the Elf finds out, when he is 30 years old, that he really isn’t an elf. When he was an orphan baby, he snuck into Santa’s bag one Christmas night and was raised at the North Pole. Even though he could have seen this coming, due to his extreme size compared to other elves and his inability to make toys quickly, Buddy is heartbroken and crushed to hear this news. Santa tells him that he found Buddy’s dad, Walter Hobbs in New York City. Buddy travels to New York and finds his dad to be a business man with no time for his wife, Emily, and 12 year old son Michael. Walter doesn’t believe that Buddy could be his son, so Buddy finds himself homeless and working at Macey’s Christmas Town with other employees dressed like elves. Buddy quickly falls in love with another employee, Jovie, although his zeal for Christmas and unrefined manners make her hesitant to let her walls down. Through many Christmas miracles, Buddy brings joy and belief in Santa back to his family, friends, and the rest of New York City saving Santa through singing and Christmas cheer.
Jeff Erickson played the lead role of Buddy the Elf with childlike energy and joyfulness. His off-key singing was sung with enthusiasm and flare. Erikson does a fabulous job portraying this lovable character through all his emotions and facial expressions. Contrary to the cheerful demeanor of Buddy is his father, Walter Hobbs, played by Tim Behunin who played the role of a grumpy workaholic with great intensity. When Walter gets to know Buddy, Behunin declares, “He’s an idiot, my son’s an idiot” followed by a great zinger from his wife Emily played by Morgan Parry.
Buddy’s younger brother, Michael Hobbs is played by Jacob Tousley. This young actor is talented and energetic with great singing technique and could be headed to great things in his future. Some of the best songs of the night were sung by Morgan Parry and Tousley with “I’ll Believe in You” and “There Is a Santa Claus”. The duo’s strong vocals and acting were filled with excitement and energy. Clarissa Wykstra plays Jovie, the Macey’s employee who Buddy falls in love with. Wykstra’s crabby and insecure demeanor along with her frowns and eye rolls portray her loneliness since moving to New York. She clearly depicts her heartbreak and her upset feeling in “Never Fall In Love (With an Elf).”
The rest of the cast was enjoyable and well cast by Caleb Parry. Russell Nielson played Santa Claus as a great narrator and storyteller. Gina Behunin was comical and fun to watch as Deb, the secretary. Mak Milford played a great store manager for Macey’s with powerful vocals and cheerful acting. Young singers and actors portrayed the elves of the North Pole and children of New York City. An ensemble of adults had many roles throughout the evening playing reindeer, business men and women, Macey’s elf employees, people of New York City, and more. The ensemble had many dance numbers choreographed by Kacee Neff such as “Christmastown” and “Sparklejollytwinklejingley”. “Christmastown” was an energetic dance number with happy elves and reindeer dancing around large wooden toy alphabet blocks. The store employees tapped danced with Christmas decorations and tinsel in “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” with lively dance steps and jubilance. Also choreographed nicely was the kick line in “Nobody Care About Santa.”
Costumes designed by Stephanie Colyar were very detailed and fitting for the show. I think some of my favorite costumes for the night were the elf costumes, which there were a lot of. The bright elf costumes for the elves (kids) at the North Pole were trimmed with fake white fur with bows and buttons. And more elf costumes for the adults in the ensemble such as the Macey’s employees and the disgruntled unemployed elves on Christmas Eve. The details to Buddy’s costume including the embroidered gold detailing were just like the movie, all except they were missing his pointy elf shoes.
Bringing a lot of magic to the night were the large projections on the back and sides of the theater designed by Caleb Parry. Changes in scenery were easy to believe as the entire scenes changed with huge projections that even moved and snowed. The large projection of the Etch-a-Sketch note left by Buddy was very well executed and large enough that it could be easily read in the theater.
Overall, the Ziegfeld Theater put on a very good humored show of Elf the Musical that will delight audiences both young and old. If you are looking for a wonderful evening filled with comedy and Christmas Spirit, head to Ogden to see Elf the Musical. Or you can follow Buddy’s advice for a great day: “First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, and then we’ll go ice skating, and then we’ll eat a whole roll of tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then to finish we’ll snuggle.”