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'Elf' delivers Christmas spirit at 5th Avenue
"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."
For those growing up (or rather, just living) in the aughts, Buddy the Elf is a familiar character. Made famous by funny man Will Ferrell on the big screen, the story of Buddy's journey through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and through the Lincoln Tunnel to New York City has fast become a holiday tradition for people of all ages.
This month, the silly elf/man-child has made his way to the 5th Avenue Theatre, spreading Christmas cheer one song at a time as part of "Elf - The Musical."
Adapted for the stage by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, and featuring music and lyrics by up-comers Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, the musical stays true to the original plot - but a carbon copy of the movie it is not. Infused with jazzy show tunes, dancing and a few sparkly tricks - it’s a story all its own.
Avoiding the trap of too much cheese, this show packs laughs for kids and adults alike (much of which comes from St. Nick himself - played with spunk by Sean G. Griffin).
Matt Owen's Buddy is all you'd expect him to be - relatable, lovable and hilariously naive. And while I was a bit concerned about how they would portray Owen as standing feet above the elves, the solution - having the rest of the cast acting on their knees - was hilarious (to say the least). He might not be Ferrell, but he’s perfect in his own right. And he can dance. And sing. And he’s full of "Sparklejollytwinklejingley" joy - which pretty much means he fantastic (in elf-speak).
I'll admit there were some things I missed - Bob Newhart's Papa Elf, Buddy's tangent about the "angry elf" and Jovie's rendition of "Baby it's Cold Outside" were the only major plot points missing from the stage production.
But the creative team hit gold with a handful of new musical numbers - the most notable being a ragtime-y number called "Nobody Cares About Santa.” Set against a gimmick-y Chinese restaurant in the city and featuring a slew of grumpy fake Santas dancing a-la the Rockettes, is something not to be missed.
There is much to be said about the fact that the 5th Avenue was the only theatre in the country licensed the rights to do this play as it is currently running on Broadway. But mainly, it’s because they’re just really great at what they do.
If you’re looking for the perfect way to get into the spirit this holiday season, a ticket to “Elf” is the gift that keeps on giving.
"Elf - The Musical" runs through Dec. 31 at 5th Avenue Theatre. For showtimes and tickets go HERE.