By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant
Happy, innocent Buddy the Elf (Tanner Yake) grew up in the North Pole. Accidentally plopped into one of Santa’s bags in New York, baby Buddy was reared under Santa’s (Jonny Kigin) supervision along with the elves in his toy workshop. Buddy thought he, too, was an elf even though when grown he towered over his diminutive cohorts.
Santa felt it was time to let Buddy know that he was a human, and has a father, Walter Hobbs (Joe Graff) in New York City. Santa felt it was time for Buddy to meet his dad.
Dressed in his very green and large elf suit, Buddy’s off to the Big Apple. He meets his father who didn’t know he existed, stepmom Emily Hobbs (Tracy Parsons) and half-brother Michael Hobbs (Joshua Clark).
Buddy tries to fit in and his new family attempts to accept him. Relinquishing his elf suit for a business suit to work with Hobbs doesn’t improve the bonding process. Even his acquaintance and potential love interest Jovie (Carly Phillips) has a bad start. When everyone is at their wits’ end, Buddy is pushed out of his new home and forced back into a department store full of Santas.
Innocent words, actions and unfiltered comments not a problem in his previous sheltered North Pole environment often have double, suggestive meanings in this new world. That might be troublesome to overcome.
Yake is tremendous. He begins as a naïve, sheltered young man and transitions into a quasi-grown up (still working on it), not so naïve as he used to be. Much of his emotions are expressed through facial expressions and physical movement.
Nowicki is a gem as Meg. Wonderful singing of “In the Way” but what she does with her facial expressions and general movements says it all.
As the beleaguered dad, Graff progresses from stern and uncompromising to a more reasonable and finally compassionate man.
Parsons and Clark are delightful singing “I Believe in You”.
Phillips packs a lot of emotion in her rendition of “Never Fall in Love”.
Kigin transitions easily from his role as jolly Santa into the authoritative business man Mr. Greenaway.
Impressive direction by Brandon Keller in managing such a large cast in a relatively small space.
“Elf The Musical” is a Christmas story with lots of singing, dancing and general fun. One caution is that the play (especially Act One) is long and very young kids may lose interest.
“Elf The Musical” is a production of Comtra Theatre, 20540 Route 19, Cranberry Township PA 16066 and runs from December 6 – December 15, 2019. For more information, click here.