Interview: Jessica Martin On ELF: THE MUSICAL!

By: Oct. 29, 2015
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Hello Jessica, thank you for talking to us! How are previews going?

It feels fantastic - we've had a really good response from the audience, and that augurs well for the rest of the run.

Is it a bit strange starting a Christmassy show in the middle of October?

It is and yet it isn't. We had a test run with the show last Christmas, in Plymouth and Dublin, but the season was over so quickly so yes, although it's a bit odd, they start selling the presents and putting up the decorations in shops over the summer now, people are getting into the Christmas spirit sooner than we think.

How was the test run last year?

We did a week in Plymouth and a six-week run in the Bord Gais in Dublin, a really big theatre, a 2,000-seater. Plymouth sold out well in advance, and that was a slam-dunk, they loved it; then we went to Dublin. Most of the principals had some kind of reputation over here, but in Dublin it was the show that was selling itself, and it was sold out for all of the run, and they really loved it. The show stands on its own merits - it's fantastic, a proper musical in the tradition of the Broadway book show, and I know for all of us who were asked to audition in the first instance, we Googled the music, and you just fall in love with it. There will be some people resistant to the Christmas element, but there are a huge amount of people who love the film and watch it all year round. It almost supercedes the season and the type of show you expect for Christmas - this is a proper musical.

Did you know the film before?

No! I'd never seen the film, but I'd seen Will Ferrell in a few things, and I couldn't imagine what he'd be like as an elf! So I watched it - and it's hilarious. Ben Forster, who plays Buddy in the musical, is nothing like Will Ferrell. He's a marvellous song-and-dance man and actor, he's very funny, and brings his own individual touches to the role, so people won't compare them. You'll totally buy into the new presentation of the story of Elf as it is in this situation.

A lot of people won't be expecting Ben to be funny - obviously they'll know him as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar!

I was thinking about this the other day, and wondering, "Well, Buddy is not a million miles away from Jesus..." **laughs** He's a force for good, and an outsider, and he's not sure where he belongs, in a pure world or in the world of the mortals. He changes people's lives. Cynics can scoff that it's lightweight, but it does what good entertainment is supposed to do - lift you up, look at your own situation, and think, "That's what we're here for - just make the world go round and for everyone to do their best."

You're well known for your comic roles but here you're playing the straight man.

Yes, the step-mum Emily Hobbs, one of the most delightful roles that I could expect to be playing at this stage of my career. I'm not an ingenue any more, so you wait around for character roles, or crazy ladies, so this is lovely in the tradition of Bedknobs and Broomsticks - the older lady with something to offer still. We all get some fantastic numbers - wonderful Judy Garland-type songs in the middle of a modern musical! I'm absolutely in my element.



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