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Buddy the Elf and the cast of Elf the Musical are dancing through Thousand Oaks this weekend (19-22 November 2015) for the holiday season. And what a fun and entertaining outing for all ages to help get you in the holiday season! The show is just as enjoyable for those who have fallen in love with Will Farrell’s Buddy and those (like me) who have never seen the film. The material is fresh and full of “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” good fun as narrated by Santa (Ken Clement).
There is only one Will Farrell but I can testify that Daniel Patrick Smith‘s Buddy the Elf is thoroughly entertaining, joyous, good humored and innocent. His singing and dancing are sure to bring a smile to the biggest Scrooge amongst us and he carries the show well. It doesn’t hurt that he is supported by a talented and energetic cast including Scott Withers (Walter), Gabrielle Mirabella (Emily), Audra Qualley (Deb) and Maggie Anderson (Jovie) not to mention a great ensemble with top-notch singing and enthusiasm. Gabrielle Mirabella’s Emily is sympathetic, well-dressed and well voiced with a sweet rendition of “I’ll Believe In You”. Audra Qualley’s Deb is all kinds of funny with some of the best lines in the show and a contagious and infectious cheer. Maggie Anderson is a beautiful young woman whose Jovie is perfect parts cynical and lovable and her second act solo “Never Fall in Love” was a crowd favorite. Scott Withers’ Walter comes across as the ultimate workaholic and his transformation may come too swiftly but is believable.
There is hardly anything poor to be said about the cast and acting/singing. If anything the dancing falters at times, although nothing too egregious — better than what can be expected from most community theatres but an equity tour company would certainly dance circles around them. Gregg Barnes‘ costumes for Buddy, Santa and the elves are aces and I wanted to have one of everything Gabriella Mirabella wore. The orchestrations by Doug Besterman and conducted by Samuel Bagala were strong and I did not notice the elfish size of the orchestra (7 musicians) nor did they overpower the singers. Sadly the scenic design by Christine Peters is showing its age and wear especially in the NYC scenes.
So if you are looking for some good, family-fun holiday entertainment, might I suggest Theater League’s Elf the Musical? Seats are expensive in the orchestra and mezzanine ($65-$85) but you can find economical tickets in the rear of the balcony section ($30). Find your tickets on Ticketmaster or at the box office. And if you are not able to catch the tour in Thousand Oaks, there are future engagements in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Dallas, etc. and if you are extra lucky you can catch the equity limited time production in New York City!