I am the Scrooge of musicals…and Christmas. I hate shopping. I hate panic buying. I hate queuing. I hate the repeat of carols. I hate the temptation of those pesky gold chocolate coins. I hate my battles with the sellotape. I hate wrapping awkward shapes. I hate tangling myself with the fairy lights around the tree. I hate waking up early, pretending Santa has arrived. I hate unwrapping another pair of slipper socks….or knickers (Okay…I love the Christmas dinners…but I hate the washing up!) I hate these very merry words “Merry Christmas” in November.
So why go to see Elf The Musical? Ha! To shake the Bah Humbug out of me! I heard it through the Twitter grapevine timeline, these tickets were to die for and literally started online frenzies. AND Elf (2003) is probably the only film I can tolerate being on repeat during the Christmas holidays…thanks to Will Ferrell. Witnessing Buddy’s antics, it’s an offer you simply can’t refuse. In the end, I was basically like this…
ELF is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
– The Dominion Theatre, 2015
Ben Forster had Buddy’s wonderful charm down to a
tee bee. Pacing the stage and interacting with the giant graphic backdrop, the Dominion Theatre was certainly his playground. Watching a man in an elf costume, including stripey tights and carrying a felted man bag, it’s strange to think you had 100% faith in him to lead this production for over two hours. His childish antics and harmless flirting with Kimberley Walsh’s Jovie achieves Buddy’s beloved butter snow wouldn’t melt personality. With quirky nods, smiles and winks, he’s totally lovable…and Ben Forster knows it. He’s got the power, voice…and the look (despite a hint of Julian Clary!)
Kimberley Walsh’s Jovie was a little hard work, struggling to connect and understand her unhappiness. I know Jovie is heavily guarded with her emotions, but I searched for some familiar “go girl” turf in her performance…and drew blank. Staying in touch with her Girls Aloud roots, she’s gives a glamorous fashion fix to Elf, but I want to give her more credit than a pretty face. Luckily, her song “Never Fall In Love With An Elf” saved her bacon mince pie. A sassy touch of comedy mixed with the true trials on dating, I warmed up to Kimberley Walsh and appreciated her determination to carry her character through Buddy’s story.
Although rejected Buddy’s ‘depressive’ phrase was quickly glossed over, the dissing song “Nobody Cares About Santa” with the fake Santa mob was quite amusing. Throwing their sacks like rubbish bags and describing their joys of pleasing children couldn’t be more fitting, especially with the children sitting (or standing!) in my row. I forgot Elf catered for the family audience and I did wonder whether there was something wrong with me as a twenty-something year old wanting to see the show. However, the performance’s theatre etiquette slightly frustrated me – people leaving their seats, going to the toilet or the bar, slamming the chairs, vibrating the row and silhouetting the view. It made me feel sorry for the cast, who were singing their lungs out, to be greeted with the sight of people walking away.
Despite ignoring his character’s warning about phones and sweet packets during the performance, Mark McKerracher played a tender, loving, care Santa for all children and adults to adore. Who knew Santa has an iPad and hates animal rights charities for his lack of reindeer. Santa’s elves also made the audience chuckle as they scooted on their knees to achieve their elvish height.
Joe McGann played a fantastically grumpy workaholic, Walter Hobbs, mentally battling with his heart and head scenario. Like a tug of war, his wife (Jessica Martin) and his boss (Graham Lappin), both demand family and work commitments, and then there’s Buddy who brings chaos. His strained father and son relationship with Buddy was a little heart pulling, but nothing can stay “emotional” for too long – not with Buddy in the Dominion house. Plus, Elf is not a musical you can emotionally invest in, it’s all about sitting back and “discovering your inner elf”. It was great fun to watch Hobbs’ work office come alive thanks to Jennie Dale’s Deb encouraging Buddy’s wild spirit to let loose. The paper shredder’s “snow fights” were pretty hilarious – and reminded me I have a paper shredder at home *evil laugh*.
Blowing their budget on Santa’s flying sleigh above the stalls, Elf ended with the cute factor. Like a Christmas card finish, Buddy and his family whitewashed the auditorium with glittered glee, tinseled tunes and sparkling smiles. Knowing Buddy, Jovie and Baby “lived happily ever after”, Elf bottled some good vibes and I was prepared to neck deck them down. Snow was falling, all around me, children playing, having fun, I guess it’s the season for love and understanding….so okay…Merry Christmas everyone!
Buy your tickets to see Elf The Muscial here Ends 2 January 2016