Buddy the Elf is spreading Christmas cheer close to home.
La Comedia Dinner Theatre’s version of “Elf the Musical” has hit the stage. The stage show is based on the beloved 2003 holiday film starring Will Ferrell and the 2010 musical adaptation.
It is playing through Dec. 31.
ABOUT THE SHOW
The show features the work of composer Matthew Sklar, lyricist Chad Beguelin, and librettists Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin.
“Elf” is an enjoyable fish-out-of-water tale concerning Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly lands in Santa’s sleigh and is raised at the North Pole. Shocked by the fact he’s actually human and not an elf, the over-excited Buddy is given permission by Santa to travel to New York City, discover the truth behind his past, and be reunited with his real father.
Headlining his first La Comedia production having been previously seen over the years in many supporting roles, David Thomas, who has also appeared with Dayton Playhouse and Sinclair Community College, delivers an enthusiastic, joyful portrayal of Buddy. Avoiding the temptation to go broad or oversell the role, Thomas grasps Buddy’s innocence and vulnerability while fitting the comedic mold of kooky outcast.
“David brings a real childlike quality to Buddy,” said director/choreographer Chris Beiser. “It’s a real, fun thing to watch. Whenever Buddy talks about Santa, the North Pole and candy canes or when he learns about falling in love, New York City or that great vision of Christmas, David keeps the childlike quality throughout and is entirely charming. When he auditioned, he did so with such magnetism and charm. There was a real warmth to him. We were drawn to him.”
“I love playing Buddy because he’s a lot like me – fun, silly, energetic, and ignorant,” Thomas joked. “The show’s appeal is in its goofy, family-friendly story. There’s a good core message of the holidays bringing your family together.”
The admirable principal cast, nicely costumed in contemporary and fanciful designs by A.T. Jones, includes the aforementioned, fittingly perturbed Kramer, effectively jaded Jessie del Rio as Buddy’s emotionally distant girlfriend Jovie (her matter-of-fact rendition of the jazz-infused “Never Fall in Love (With An Elf)” is a highlight), Vicki Oceguera as Emily Hobbs, Grayson Reynolds and Ben Locke as Michael Hobbs, humorous Desmond Thomas as Macy’s Manager, Nicholas C. Breiner as Walter’s arrogant boss Mr. Greenway, Mark Reuter as Santa Claus, and Carrie SaLoutos as Deb/Mrs. Claus.
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Energetic ensemble members include Gracie Adkins, Max Barton, Gwen Cullen, Cooper Gleeson, Andrew Gryniewicz, Anna Harkrider, Berkley Huss, Cora Metz, Brooke Morgan, Michael Mossucco, Emily Popp, Zachary Provart, Sam Schmidt, and Steffahn Whitcanack.
In addition to Ray Zupp’s excellent set design capturing the storybook vibrancy of the North Pole and the metropolitan esthetic of the Big Apple and specifically Rockefeller Center, Tony Award nominees Sklar and Beguelin (“The Wedding Singer,” “The Prom”) create an array of tuneful, tender songs.
The breezy score, music directed by Rebecca Childs with orchestrations by Steve Goers, includes “Happy All The Time,” “Sparklejollytwinklejingley,” “I’ll Believe in You,” “Nobody Cares About Santa,” “The Story of Buddy,” and beautiful ballad “A Christmas Song.”
“The music really (feels like) Christmas,” Beiser said. “It adds another level of great energy and fun, (including) moments for tap dancing. The music allows for so many opportunities for different styles of dance. Overall, ‘Elf’ is such a warm show, which is what we need this time of year. It’s a show about accepting people and learning that people have differences and to embrace those differences. It’s a show (providing) great Christmas warmth and cheer.”
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Bad news: the menu doesn’t include spaghetti drenched in maple syrup.
But it is holiday inspired with turkey and cornbreak dressing with cranberry sauce. View the full menu here.
For evening shows Thursday – Sunday, arrive between 5:30-6 p.m. The buffet will open around 6:15 p.m. and the show will begin around 7:30 – 7:45 p.m. All shows have two acts with a 15-minute intermission.
For matinee shows Thursday, Friday & Sunday, arrive between 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. The buffet will open around 11:15 a.m. and the show will begin around 12:30 – 12:45 p.m. All shows have two acts with a 15-minute intermission.
WANT TO GO?
What: Elf the Musical
When: Nov. 7 through Dec. 31
Where: La Comedia Dinner Theatre, 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro
Cost: Ticket prices start at $61 for adults and $30 for kids 11 and younger.