BWW Review: ELF Decorates Sacramento with Christmas Spirit

BWW Review: ELF Decorates Sacramento with Christmas Spirit

Buddy the Elf spreads Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear, now through Sunday at Broadway Sacramento.

Based on the 2003 Will Ferrell film, "Elf" the musical is as "Sparklejollytwinklejingley" as its title character. Santa reads a children's book. Elves tap dance. And it snows inside the Empire State Building. Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin's infectious songs see romantic skaters at Rockefeller Center, neglected mall Santas in a lineup worthy of the Rockettes, and a flying sleigh that audiences will love. Sharp choreography and imaginative costumes in front of a winter palette of blue snowflakes and windy skies give the production a story book feel. Although the pace of the show feels somewhat rushed, it keeps the energy going and the younger viewers enthralled. Meanwhile, fans of the original movie will find their favorite comedic lines mixed with fresh humor from book writers Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin ("The Drowsy Chaperone").

Raised by Santa Clause and his "happy" elves at the North Pole, Buddy discovers his humanity as an adult and travels to New York City to find his biological father. Walter Hobbs (D. Scott Withers), however, may qualify as the modern-day Scrooge or Grinch, stealing Christmas with a sort of "humbug" when he refuses to fix the missing pages in his company's latest children's book.

Buddy has no trouble bringing the holiday spirit to Walter's family, maple syrup, hugs and all. Daniel Patrick Smith's sweet smile, sugar-coated voice and youthful optimism lift the spirit like Santa's sleigh. As with the warmth of a cozy fire, he melts the hearts of those around him, from love interest Jovie (the irresistible, sarcastic Maggie Anderson) to Walter's overworked secretary (a buoyant Audra Qualley). Michael Fisher and Gabrielle Mirabella also deserve mention for strong performances as the Macy's Store Manager and Walter's wife, Emily. Mirabella has some touching moments with son, Michael (a role shared by Harper Brady and Nicky Torchia). Caught between Walter's naughty listing and Buddy's pure belief, the pair is too old to believe in Santa, yet full of potential hope.

The remaining ensemble also brightens the stage with hope. As Buddy and Michael revive the Christmas spirit among New Yorkers with a song, audiences, too, will leave with an undeniable desire to "just sing a Christmas song."


Broadway Sacramento
Through Nov 15

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