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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 14, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 50
ELF - Santa's gift to Seattle!
Arts & Entertainment
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ELF - Santa's gift to Seattle!

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

ELF - THE MUSICAL
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through December 31


If you are looking for something new to see in Seattle this holiday season, look no further than the 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Elf - The Musical. With special permission from the currently running Broadway show, the musical stage version of the popular Will Ferrell film brings something different and fun to the Emerald City. Not having seen the movie, I couldn't compare the two, but I can say that this musical does what a holiday show is supposed to do - it thoroughly entertains and then lets you leave with a smile on your face.

The story centers on Buddy, who is not really an elf but rather a human boy who crawled into Santa's bag as a baby and was mistakenly taken back to the North Pole. Only after he fails miserably at toy-making and towers over the other elves in height does Santa finally tell him the truth. Buddy goes to New York to track down his father, a man named Walter Hobbs, and meets his new stepmother and 12-year-old half-brother. As in any Christmas show, Buddy renews the faith of those who have lost it and teaches even the most cynical of people the childlike innocence of believing in Santa Claus.

SOLID CAST
Several characters do very good jobs in this show. Santa (Sean G. Griffin) narrates while delivering humorous asides when it comes time to take his place within the storyline. Griffin doesn't play the role blindly jolly - there's a certain amount of curmudgeon in his Santa that gives the character an edge, a truly nice change of pace. Walter Hobbs (Allen Fitzpatrick) is Buddy's human father, who is torn between his work and his family. Fitzpatrick shows us the inner turmoil of the character along with a certain humorous shock/surprise at finding he has a full-grown elf for a son. Jovie (played by Kendra Kassebaum until December 27, then by Kirsten deLohr Helland) is delightful as the woman Buddy falls for. Her character starts off slightly jaded but warms with the hope of believing in something. Her voice is clear and when she allows it to belt out, we are gratefully aware of her craft and training.

The clear standout in this show is Buddy (Matt Owen) hands down! Owen joyfully attacks this role with a manic innocent charm that dominates his character's naiveté. With an energy source that seems endless, Owen delivers his performance consistently with the zeal needed to play an elf-out-of-water. His voice is strong and his dancing sets the pace for the entire ensemble to catch up.

SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES
The show itself is fun and family-friendly. The shtick is kept on an innocent level with no profanity or anything that might cause offense (a Jewish man with yarmulke and tallit plays Santa Claus - nothing's funnier than that!). But no matter who you are, there's something for everyone to laugh out loud at least once or twice. What else do you require in a holiday musical performance?

Elf - The Musical has music by Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer, Shrek), lyrics by Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), and a book by Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Thomas Meehan (Hairspray, The Producers). Originally opening on Broadway November 14, 2010, it ran for a total of 72 performances. The current Broadway production opened November 9, 2012, and is slated to run until January 6, 2013. The movie Elf was released in the holiday season of 2003, starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, Ed Asner as Santa, Zooey Deschanel as Jovie, and James Caan as Walter.

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ELF - Santa's gift to Seattle!
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