BWW Reviews: Pioneer Theatre Company's ELF THE MUSICAL is Hilarious and Heartwarming
A hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy, Pioneer Theatre Company's ELF THE MUSICAL is also a heartwarming love letter to the spirit of Christmas.
It is the first Utah production of ELF THE MUSICAL (book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin), the recent Broadway show based on the perennial favorite film. The musical tells the story of Buddy, who was raised by elves at the North Pole but never quite fit in, despite his enthusiasm for the Christmas holiday. When Buddy learns he is a human, he travels to New York City to meet his birth father, Walter Hobbs, a businessman who has forgotten the importance of family.
The musical tells the story of Buddy, who was raised by elves at the North Pole but never quite fit in, despite his enthusiasm for the Christmas holiday. When Buddy learns he is a human, he travels to New York City to meet his birth father, Walter Hobbs, a businessman who has forgotten the importance of family.
Pioneer Theatre Company's production has the zip and scale of a show on Broadway. And no wonder, as it was directed by Tony-nominated Dan Knechtges, director/choreographer of Broadway's LYSISTRATA JONES and choreographer of the Broadway productions of XANADU, SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, and The 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE.
Much of the scale is thanks to the largely exceptional set design by Michael Schweikardt, and much of the zip comes courtesy of Broadway choreographer Liza Gennaro. Standout dance numbers include "Just Like Him" and "The Story of Buddy," both set in Walter's New York office, and the superfluous but entertaining "Nobody Cares About Santa." Also deserving of mention are the festive costumes by K.L. Alberts, especially those fashioned from Christmas decorations in the fun ensemble number "Sparklejollytwinklejingley."
Quinn VanAntwerp, star of the Broadway hit JERSEY BOYS, is a knockout as Buddy. He has the just the right look, voice, and comedic timing to effectively play the familiar character without being a carbon copy of Will Ferrell, who played the role in the film. VanAntwerp exudes just the right amount of innocence to be delightful rather than cloying.
Other leading roles are wonderfully played by the Tony nominated Martin Vidnovic (Walter Hobbs) and other Broadway actors Libby Servais (Jovie), Daniel Marcus (Santa Claus), and Tanesha Gary (Emily Hobbs). Gary's voice blends beautifully with local actor Jaedin Clark's (Michael Hobbs) in two of the musical and emotional highlights of the show, "I'll Believe in You" and "There is a Santa Claus."
Supporting players Lance Roberts (Greenway) and Allyson Kaye Daniel (Deb) shine, as does the busy ensemble.
If you want to see a holiday-themed show this season (and why wouldn't you?), ELF THE MUSICAL is hands-down the best choice in Utah this year.
ELF THE MUSICAL plays through December 28, 2013. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit www.pioneertheatre.org.
Photo Credit: L-R: Jaedin Clark (Michael) with Quinn VanAntwerp (Buddy). Photo by Alexander Weisman.