BWW Review: THE CHRISTMAS ELF 2 at Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre
On Saturday, November 10, I had the pleasure of seeing THE CHRISTMAS ELF 2 at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport, CT. Playwright Phill Hill has revived some of his characters from last year's, "The Christmas Elf," while adding a new central elf protagonist who has a new name chosen by the audience in each show. In this Saturday noon performance, the elf's name was Winky Dinky Pinky, a role performed excellently by Myles Lee. Director Andrea Pane also stars as Elvis, a lead elf. Ashley DePascale revives her comedic role as Twizzle the high energy elf who is easily distracted and delivers numerous comical lines that focus on her own mindset rather than the central story plot, creating humorous back and forth with Elvis.
There are multiple set changes done quickly and efficiently between the nine scenes within the two acts. Entrances come from all over, including under the stage, and through the audience, breaking the fourth wall multiple times, as is characteristic in the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre.
Corinne Marshall steals the show, taking command of the stage as Zara, an imposing action figure that is not to be mistaken for a toy. She sings the show's most powerful musical number, "The Final Countdown." Zara is confident and highly likeable, the character acting like a leader of the toys, even though she is not to be mistaken for one of them, as again, she is an action figure, not a toy.
The storyline is that Santa Claus is considering retiring, on the grounds that fewer and fewer children seem to believe in him. Elvis enlists Winky Dinky Pinky to try to help Santa Claus change his mind, with the strategy that Winky Dinky Pinky must convince one specific boy (who does not appear in this show) to believe in Santa Claus, again. Winky Dinky Pinky arrives at that boy's house, first encounters Zara who agrees to help him on his quest, and then encounters the boy's old toys Anne, Barbsie, and Roboto, in the attic. The audience can assume that Anne and Barbsie were the boy's sister's toys, although that is not directly stated.
Zara discovers that the iPad is the reason that the boy has rejected his previous toys. It is fascinating seeing this from the toys' perspective. In real life, iPad and other technology addictions have taken the place of real social interactions, schoolwork, athletics, religious practices, and family relationships. I never thought to see the destructive nature of iPad addictions upon toy manufacturing companies and toy stores, but clearly the toy industry has also been wounded by the digital age.
Without providing any spoilers, this story takes an unconventional turn that I did not see coming, but that has a bottom line that should please the children in the audience.
THE CHRISTMAS ELF 2 is scheduled to continue to run at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport, CT on Saturdays and Sundays through December 29, 2018. For times and tickets, please go to https://dtcab.com/show/christmas-elf-2/.