MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Based on the 2003 movie directed by Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferrel, “Elf the Musical” retells the story of Buddy the Elf and the journey to find his dad after learning he’s really human. But how does Midland Community Theatre’s production stand up to the classic holiday film?
Like most shows MCT puts on, “Elf the Musical” is a wonderful sample of the talent and enthusiasm the people drawn to the theater can provide. When watching the show you can really tell the cast is enjoying themselves and this translates into a delightful high-energy performance.
Colby Padgett does an excellent job with his portrayal of Buddy. Padgett brings a wildly unbridled sense of enthusiasm to the role, providing a baseline of energy that both separates Buddy from the other characters while setting a great baseline for the rest of the cast to meet.
Every moment Buddy is on stage is a moment with something to smile about. From his sweet naivety and love of Christmas to Padgett’s wonderful facial expressions and beautiful voice, Buddy is, as he rightfully should be, the heart of the play.
Chris Carroll portrays Walter Hobbs with a wonderful grumpiness yet still manages to make the struggling business man believable. Watching his transformation into an loving and accepting father and true believer is a joy to watch.
Kat Fresh as Emily Hobbs was a delight. She helped provide grounding for the show while also maintaining a beautiful sense of hope. I can also say having seen Fresh in “Clue the Musical” that her sense of comedic timing is impeccable. One joke in particular about Buddy’s bloodline had me laughing about it hours after the show was over.
Nicholas Ramsey is adorable as Michael Hobbs. His relationship with Buddy was fun to see develop and the sense of kinship that emerged between them was endearing.
“Elf” needs a Santa Claus of course, and Daryl Berry does a great job with the famous figure. He provides a unique portrayal, full of cynicism and yet still jolly.
Caitlin Miles has her work cut out for her as Jovie. The script totally reworks the character from the film, turning her into much more of a grouch. However, Miles manages to make the transition work. Her performance injects some peppiness into Jovie, saving her from being an unlikable figure. Jovie is still entertaining and funny, and by the end of the play her transition feels believable thanks to Miles' hard work.
The performances are rounded out with a phenomenal supporting cast, which help to provide believable and entertaining characters throughout the North Pole and New York City.
Concerning the technical side of the show, MCT does an excellent job. Sets are minimal but functional and still nice to look at. Costumes are fun and unique, particularly those of the elves. Buddy’s costume in particular manages to be beautiful and unique without borrowing from the film.
Tim Jebsen led the cast to some great and meaningful performances across the cast. Bert Bostic did an excellent job with his musical direction as the cast sounded phenomenal in solos, duets and ensemble numbers. Miles also choreographed the show and the ensemble numbers in particular were wonderfully executed.
Perhaps my only real complaint with this performance was a bit of the staging. During the scenes in the Hobbs' apartment, the couch was positioned in such a way that when sitting on the far left of the audience the backs of the performers were facing us and it was a bit difficult to see what was happening. Overall however this is a minor issue and hardly dampens the enjoyment of the show.
The only other complaint with “Elf the Musical” is the changes from the movie. This is hardly MCT’s fault, and they do an excellent job with what they have. Changes in the script are to be expected in order to make a Hollywood film feasible for the stage; however, the play loses some of the original sweetness that the movie held. Still, it is an enjoyable play and will likely be even more entertaining for those who have never experienced the story of Buddy the Elf before.
MCT’s production of “Elf the Musical” is easily one of the best productions I’ve seen all year. To anyone looking for an energetic family-friendly evening just in time for the holiday season, this show is the perfect night out.
“Elf the Musical” runs weekend through December 16. To purchase tickets you can click here.