Book by Thomas Meehan & Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin.
Based on the New Line Cinema film written by David Berenbaum.
268-269 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7AQ to 2 January 2016.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm. No performances 25 December & 1 January.
Runs 2hrs 25 mins. One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7927 0900.
Review: William Russell 4 November.
Elf and safety warning
Tim Goodchild’s tuppence coloured sets are terrific, his flying sledge for Santa a joy; the orchestrations of the decidedly banal songs by Sklar and Beguelin are big, brassy and everything they should be; and there is a clutch of performances by some fine old pros – Joe McGann, the delightful Jessica Martin, and rotund and funny Jennie Dale making the best of a bad job – to enjoy.
But in the end this really something one would not wish to find in one’s stocking. Part of the problem is Buddy, the Elf played by Ben Forster. The show is based on a 2003 film starring Will Ferrell who is a loved American comedian. Mr Forster is hugely talented and hardly ever off stage, but loveable he is not. The part cries out for a Graham Norton and instead it gets a slimmed-down James Cordon so to speak.
As for the plot – Buddy’s mother, a single parent, abandoned him in Santa’s sack one Christmas before she died. The baby was brought up at the North Pole by Santa’s elves until he became rather too large for comfort and left to go to New York to find his Dad who, naturally, turns out to be a grouch with a wife and neglected small son. Buddy, who is somewhat dim, causes all sorts of mayhem before everything gets drowned in the Christmas spirit and Santa is saved for posterity.
It is very efficiently staged, directed with precision, the chorus sing and dance with verve, and Kimberley Walsh as the love interest looks very pretty which is all she is required to do. Elf surfaced last year in Plymouth and no doubt will resurface in years to come round the regions of the United Kingdom. Nothing on stage really provides any reason for not getting the DVD of the Ferrell movie and taking the kids for a slap up pizza instead.
Santa: Mark McKerracher.
Buddy: Ben Forster.
Charlie: Alex Fobbester.
Shawanda: Ceili O’Connor.
Walter Hobbs: Joe McGann.
Deb: Jennie Dale.
Emily Hobbs: Jessica Martin.
Michael Hobbs: Harry Collett/Ilan Galkoff/Noah Key/Ewan Rutherford.
Security Guard 1: Mark Iles.
Security Guard 2: Francis Haugen.
Saleswoman at Macy’s: Charlotte Gale.
Store Manager: Graham Lappin.
Jovie: Kimberley Walsh.
Fake Santa at Macy’s: Barnaby Thompson.
Mother at Macy’s: Debbie Paul.
Policeman 1: Mark Iles.
Policeman2: Francis Haugen.
Sara: Nicola Coates.
Jim: Mark Iles.
Mr Greenway: Mark McKerracher.
Hot Dog Vendor: Francis Haugen.
Salvation Army Woman: Debbie Paul.
Chadwick: Barnaby Thompson.
Matthews: Paul Hutton.
Waitress: Ceili O’Connor.
Charlotte Dennon: Katie Bradley.
Woman in Central Park: Charlie Bull
Ensemble: Anton Fosh; Matt Holland; Tash Holway; Joanna Rennie.
Director & Choreographer: Morgan Young.
Musical Director: Stuart Morley.
Associate Choreographer: Helen Rymer.
Production Designer: Tim Goodchild.
Lighting Designer: Tim Lutkin.
Video Designer: Ian William Galloway.
Sound Designer: Clem Rawling for Mac Sound.
Fight Director: Paul Benzing.
Skating Consultant: Jamie Campbell.
Associate/Resident Director: Evan Ensign.