BWW Review: ELF THE MUSICAL Brings the Holiday Spirit to Sioux Falls
With the turkey eaten and the Black Friday deals purchased, Thanksgiving is officially in the rearview mirror and it's onward towards Christmas! ELF THE MUSICAL kicked off a three day run at The Washington Pavilion on Friday evening, bringing Christmas cheer to Sioux Falls the best way they know how, by "singing loud for all to hear."
ELF THE MUSICAL is based on the 2003 movie of the same name starring Will Ferrell. Making its Broadway debut in 2010, ELF THE MUSICAL builds upon the familiar story from the movie with a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin and music and lyrics by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin.
The show follows Buddy the "elf" as he learns that he is actually human and not an elf like the rest of his friends at the North Pole. This realization takes him on a journey to New York City in search of his biological father, Walter Hobbs, where his Happy All the Time demeanor is challenged by those who do not believe in Santa. Through pure joy and faith, Buddy finds a way to spread his innate happiness to those he meets and saves Christmas as he helps everyone believe in Santa Clause again.
In a departure from the film, Buddy's story is told by Santa Claus in this show. Mark Fishback dons the infamous red suite for the fourth time as Santa Clause, opening the show with a personal touch to the city by adding in a joke about the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits football team. He returns to open Act 2 and in a funny show the continually gets big laughs, he brings a different, dryer sense of humor that is appreciated.
From opening number to close Eric Williams, as Buddy, does a fantastic job of charming the audience and making them smile - one of Buddy's favorite things. Williams is absolutely loveable in the roll of Buddy, he brings an adorable awkwardness to the character that makes him instantly endearing.
The set design, by Christine Peters, is right out of an illustrated children's book. The playfulness of the set pieces supports the whimsical nature of the show and reinforces the idea that the audience has been transported into the children's book that Santa is reading to them.
As Buddy makes his way from the North Pole to New York City, Gregg Barnes' costume design utilizes color to differentiate between the contrasting cities. While the ensemble costumes at the North Pole are brightly colored and playful, the ensemble costumes transition monotone greys once Buddy reaches New York City. This contrast reinforces the hardness of the city and Buddy's outsider status as he stands out against the grey in his iconic green elf outfit.
The cast is consistently strong with memorable performances by Fierce (with a capital 'F'!) Galyana Castillo as Deb who shines throughout the song Just Like Him, and Paloma D'auria as Jovie who is entirely relatable in the song Never Fall In Love (With an Elf). Grady Miranda and Caitlin Lester-Sams are also memorable as the cute mother/son duo who bond throughout the show over wanting to connect with John Adkinson's disengaged and distracted husband/father, Walter Hobbs.
The choreography by Connor Gallagher was captivating and beautifully executed throughout the show. The cast was consistently on point with dance heavy numbers Sparklejollytwinklejingley and Worlds Greatest Dad being particularly strong.
The joy and optimism within this show is contagious. It will leave you full of holiday cheer and ready to deck the halls. Make sure you see this endearing show while it is still at The Washington Pavilion through Sunday November 25th. This remarkable show is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus