City Pulse

By Patricia Wersinger

I was lucky enough to attend the Opening Night performance of Elf, the new Broadway musical based on the 2003 movie, last week at the Hirschfeld Theatre. A hilarious tale of Christmas whimsy, it is the perfect antidote to the mental weariness of holiday shopping and a great show for the whole family. How can anyone resist the colorful tale of Buddy, the giant elf who decides to go to New York to find his real dad after he learns from Santa that he is a human? Dressed in his full gear of yellow tights and green jacket, hat and peaked-up shoes, Buddy the elf clashes immediately with the cynicism of hard-edged New Yorkers (that’s us right?), especially his Grinch-like dad who does not want anything to do with him. His shock at the disingenuineness of humans gets worse as this real elf gets hired to work as a fake elf at Macy’s. He falls in love with a depressed Macy’s worker, Jovie, who like everyone first mocks his good spiritedness before being won over by it.

You laugh at the clueless Buddy, but the message the show delivers is very pertinent for today’s world. Who is more laughable? The seemingly foolish Buddy, who is true, or the sarcastic, short – sighted smartaholics around him who think they know better. “This is not a Christmas Musical”, said co-librettist Thomas Meehan (Three-time Tony Award winner for Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) at a pre-opening party “but a full – scale Broadway musical that just happens to take place at Christmas in New York.”

At one point Santa laments that PETA has made it illegal for him to hire reindeers and he has to depend on people’s Christmas Spirit to lift up his sleigh. In spite of its heart-warming tones, there are plenty of wise – cracking jokes in the Thomas Meehan’s and Bob Martin’s fast- paced book to keep those not so easily moved entertained all night.

The colorful score by Matthew Sklar and the endearing lyrics by Chad Beguelin, the lively cast, Casey Nicholaw’s direction and choreography and the impressive sets will make for an uplifting and joyful evening on Broadway for young and old.

Open now for nine weeks until January 2nd.

The Hirschfeld Theatre, or

Originally published November 2010

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