BWW Interview: 6 Questions and a Plug with ELF THE MUSICAL's Buddy, Sam Hartley

BWW Interview: 6 Questions and a Plug with ELF THE MUSICAL's Buddy, Sam Hartley

It's easy to get wrapped up on the busy holiday season -- dealing with work, home, family, winter driving... it is enough to make one say, "Bah Humbug!" But that's another story. When you need a reminder of the wonder and delight of the Christmas season, the Ordway Center for Performing Arts is THE place to head this year. Whether or not you've seen the film starring Will Ferrell, ELF THE MUSICAL, playing now through Dec. 30 on the Ordway's main stage in Saint Paul, you simply must put on your holiday finest and head on over to this production, now on it's third national tour. It's a delight and, frankly, even the grouchiest of winter workdays don't stand a chance to the energy from the cast, starring Sam Hartley as Buddy the Elf.

Hartley took time during his off-stage hours to share a little more about himself and what it is like to be a part of this Christmas love-fest in this 6 Questions & a Plug. Read on, and go to be filled with the wonder of Christmas and believe in Santa Claus again.

First, are you at all as cheery and happy at Buddy in your Sam Hartley life? And do you love Christmas half as much?

I am not sure anyone is as cheery and happy as Buddy the Elf, but I sure try to keep up. We tech the show around Halloween, so we are full Christmas mode very early on. The spirit and energy in the theater is so palpable each night, you can't help but smile.

Buddy is on stage A LOT. This role must be a bit of a workout. How do you keep your energy level up for the entire show eight times a week, with such an upbeat, happy attitude? How about your similarly happy cast mates, if you can speak for them?

It is a marathon. This is my third season as Buddy, and each year I learn new ways to better perform the role. The first year was pure chaos, and I just felt grateful to start and end a show. Now I love that I am able to feel present from downbeat to bows. Diet and exercise plays a huge role in our daily lives. We get to tour the country, performing in the most incredible venues, sampling the countries best food, and exploring the sights- but we do so very carefully. In my opinion, this ensemble of incredible performers are the real heroes; they put their bodies through the ringer every night, and changing climates/altitudes/physical stages doesn't make that easy. We rely heavily on each other.

What's your favorite part of being in Elf the Musical -- a song, a scene, your tights?

My favorite songs are "Never Fall in Love," and "There is a Santa Claus." Maybe because I get to enjoy them every night from the wings. Maybe because they're pure magic.

ELF is very upbeat and a refreshing holiday tale that tells the life story of your character Buddy. What's YOUR life story? How did Sam Hartley get to this point?

I am a Nebraska boy, born/raised/colleged. I always knew NYC was the end game, and bought my one way ticket about six years ago. I was taught very early on to be a yes-man, and it's informed my career from day one. Accepting contracts that at the time felt random and a little out of focus, led me to this very point today.

You're spending most of December, and Christmas, in Saint Paul. Are you getting out and enjoying the area while you're here? And, if so, what are some of the things you've been doing or enjoyed the most?

We are loving the Twin Cities, so far! Loving the excellent food and coffee scene in Lowertown and Cathedral Hill.

What is next for you after ELF closes this tour? Where can fans see you next?

I will be back in NYC ready for audition season, and whatever comes my way.

More information:

Visit for tickets and details about your trip to the Ordway. At the media viewing, some patrons were dressed in their ELF-inspired finest costumes. Costume or not, head up to the second level and take a family photo in the fun Instagram-ready backdrop straight from a winter in NYC, check out the decor and leave extra time to enjoy the holiday music in the Target Atrium by Lori Dokken. Also, be sure to bring new socks and underwear for the drive to help The Drawer.


Sam Hartley as Buddy in ELF THE MUSICAL. Photo by Jeremy Daniel, courtesy of The Ordway.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Related Articles View More Minneapolis / St. Paul Stories   Shows

From This Author Kristen Hirsch Montag

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram instagram