Review: ELF at Fairfield Center Stage

The musical is scheduled to continue to run through November 25, 2023. 

By: Nov. 12, 2023
Review: ELF at Fairfield Center Stage

On Saturday, November 11th, I had the pleasure of seeing ELF, the musical, performed by Fairfield Center Stage, at Wakeman Hall inside First Congregational Church of Fairfield. With book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin and music by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, this musical is based on the 2003 movie. Director Marcelle Morrisey, musical director Clay Zambo, and choreographers Emily Frangipane & Kelsey Kaminski combine their talents to bring out the best in this phenomenal ensemble cast. The music is of the traditional show-tunes genre, a rarity in more recently written musicals.

These first-rate ensemble cast members all excel in their respective roles and have tight chemistry with each other.  The main leads include Nick Kuell (Buddy), Alexis Willoughby (Jovie), Mark Silence (Walter Hobbes), Samantha Moore (Emily Hobbes), a platoon of James Kelly and Sam Matis (Michael Hobbes), Jeremy Ajdukiewicz (Santa), Lindsey Anderson (Deb), Michael Traum (Greenway), and Ben Brennan (Store Manager.)  Furthermore enhancing the quality of the show with their talents are ensemble members Bridget Brennan, Liz Buonicore, Grace Ferrante, Jim Hisey, Kelsey Kaminski, Catherine Kelly, Maggie Kruse, Xenia Manning, Sarah Maya, Penelope Moore, Paul Nicholsen, Suraya Noonan, Brianna Parkin, Melani Piacentinil, Elissa Ranney, Isaiah Rodriguez and Jayden Santos, all of whom are excellent at remaining in character at all times on stage, and making the most of their cameos.  The positive energy of this cast radiates throughout the audience.

Even though this is a fictional story, the emotions and feelings it conveys are common in reality.  The story is about the adult life of a human baby named Buddy who had crawled into Santa’s toy bag and soon found himself at the North Pole, where he was like a fish out of water, since those at the North Pole tried to raise him as an elf.   His emotions, which are wonderfully portrayed, are relatable to those who for whatever reason feel different from those around them, as if they don’t belong in the place or among the people with whom they have been immersed.  That message could be compared to other fictional tales like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Spookly the Square Pumpkin, Lambert the Sheepish Lion, Stellaluna, The Ugly Duckling, or even Wicked.  It is the highly relatable story of anyone who has ever felt as if something about their physical appearance that was beyond their own control, or their deficiency in specific abilities that are beyond their control has led to people viewing them as something less than human.  It is the story of people yearning to be among people who would accept them as equals, without having yet found a culture or community that doesn’t see them as inferiors. 

This story differs, however, in the sense that Buddy soon realizes that the reason he feels so out of place is that he is not a real elf.  The story then continues on his journey to New York City, to meet his biological father and discover his true biological roots.  The hitch, however, is that he had spent so much time in elf culture that he is out of touch with the culture he was technically born into.  Even among his own kindred, he is still very much a foreigner, culturally speaking.  After a conflict with his biological father, Buddy felt as if he could no longer stay in New York, but also felt as if he couldn’t return to the North Pole.  On this Veteran’s Day, this show can give us a glimpse into the understandable feelings that many Vietnam veterans may have felt, upon returning to America, after the war.  It was that deeply disenfranchising feeling of finally being back among their own people, yet no longer fitting in, not feeling accepted, and in many cases no longer being accepted by the very people who they dreamed of being back among, while they were experiencing the agonizing trauma of their time in a foreign land.  If our hearts break for the fictional character of Buddy, how much more should they break for the Vietnam veterans whose horror and trauma were real, both abroad and domestically.

Will Buddy and his father reconcile?  Will Buddy and his love interest Jovie end up together?  Will there be enough Christmas cheer in New York to power Santa’s sleigh.  Will Buddy play a role in powering that sleigh?  Come to the show to find out!

I highly recommend ELF which is scheduled to continue to run through November 25, 2023.  For times and tickets, please visit the link below.

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