Marriott Theatre Creates an ELF For All Seasons

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Reviewed by: Russell Goeltenbodt

Highly Recommended

When I saw the 2010 Movie of Elf with Will Farrell, I thought it was entertaining, fun, with a good story. However, Will Farrell’s portrayal of Buddy the Elf I found a little disturbing and a little creepy. After seeing Marriott Lincolnshire’s production of “Elf” A Broadway Musical, I am happy to say it brought a warm feeling, and a tear to my eye as well as doing so with the rest of the audience. This was all due to Marriott’s casting of Alex Goodrich as Buddy.

Alex brought about the joyous character of Buddy the elf that learns that he is human and not an elf. Buddy was orphaned as a baby, climbed into Santa’s bag, and was raised by Santa’s Elves in the North Pole. Unfortunately, 30 years later Buddy grew to be six feet tall and was very awkward as an elf. This forced Santa Claus to have a heartfelt talk with Buddy to tell him where he came from. Buddy also learned that his Dad was living in New York City and worked in the Empire State Building for a publishing company. Buddy then begins a journey to New York find his Dad.

Even though, Buddy is 30, he is still immature and not worldly. However, Buddy’s presence lights up a room whenever he enters, and puts smiles on the faces of most people he meets. Alex Goodrich had the same effect on the audience during his performance. He was lovable, playful, and he was someone that just exudes Christmas. Alex is able to give the same feeling with every song he sings. The message Buddy brings is the importance of believing in others when you believe in yourself A great holiday message, if you ask me.

The entire production which begins with Santa Claus (Roger Mueller) telling the story of Buddy the Elf. Roger made you think of the cool Santa you wanted to know as a kid. He was extremely believable and very funny. The music by Matthew Sklar, and lyrics by Chad Beguelin continued the great feelings throughout the performance. The entire score was upbeat, interesting and gave you the feeling of Christmas. My favorite musical numbers were “Happy All the Time”, “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” and “There is a Santa Claus”. One of the greatest moments was during “There is a Santa Claus” Susie McMonagle who plays Buddy’s step mom, Emily and new comer Cam Ezell who is Buddy’s brother, Michael. Emily and Michael see Santa’s sleigh and finally believe in Santa. Susie and Cam’s voices blended beautifully. The 11 year old Cam has an amazing voice and will knock your socks off. This kid has a bright future, and his voice is outstanding.

During Elf the Broadway Musical, Marriott did not disappoint with the amazing direction and choreography of 15-time Jeff Award winner, Marc Robin, supurb musical direction by Ryan T. Nelson, Lighting design of Jesse Klug and Set Design of Thomas M. Ryan. I have to mention a thank you to Thomas for the simple non-complicated set design. It was very refreshing to see the entire stage easily visible from all vantage points. This is not an easy task for a theater in the round. The costume design of Nancy Missimi was fun and made you feel that you were at the North Pole.

The remaining cast which included Dara Cameron (who played Jovie) who worked at Macy’s and became Buddy’s girlfriend. The chemistry between Dara and Alex was very sweet, and their music and dancing blended well. Kevin Gudahl (Walter Hobbs) who played Buddy’s Dad acted well playing the Scrooge like father whose job kept him too busy to enjoy Christmas with his family. Meeting Buddy the son he didn’t know brought out the Christmas spirit and warmth Walter needed. Alex’s warmth and Kevin’s disbelief work well and develop into an acceptable ending. The supporting cast all sing with enthusiasm and glee making this holiday show enjoyable. This holiday musical is not to be missed. After seeing this show, I am beginning to get in the spirit of the holidays.

Elf The Broadway Musical will continue to appear at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theater, www.MarriottTheatre.com. through the holidays up until December 31. Performances are

Wednesdays at 1:00 and 8:00 p. m.

Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.

Saturdays at 4:30 and 8:00 p.m.

Sundays at 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.