If you know my family, you know what kind of freaks we are for the movie Elf. I loved it when my first son was only a baby and used to HOPE my children would enjoy it just as much as I did someday.
(Because. You know. “It’s just nice to meet another human that shares my affinity for elf culture.”)
Well, wish granted. My kids have already watched the entire movie start to finish this season and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.
A few weeks ago, I heard that Elf The Musical was coming to town. Imagine my reaction. Can’t? Cue another Elf quote to illustrate my enthusiasm: “SANTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW HIM!!!”
(Oh, yeah, the quotes. We rock them constantly during the holidays. I’m not sure any of my family members can burp without adding a “did you HEAR that?” afterwards. But I digress…)
I could not believe my luck when The Straz Center very graciously invited a group of Tampa bloggers to watch Elf, The Musical. My 9yo son and I went tonight, armed with our favorite quotes and all kinds of musical Christmas cheer cued up and ready to go.
However. Before I officially launch into my review, I want to set some very clear expectations first. This is particularly important for those of you who are thinking about going and are as much of a fan of the movie as I am. So, listen up.
1) Buddy is fantastic. But he is NOT Will Ferrell. (Who can be?) Don’t go in expecting any hint of a Will Ferrell imitator, either. Buddy isn’t Will, so let that go. THIS Buddy is extraordinarily talented and may even be more earnest and singy and dancy than Will. But it’s a musical and this is theater, so Buddy should be those things. Embrace the new Buddy.
2) Elf The Musical will not copy the movie scene by scene. That would be impossible to do. It does follow the story for the most part, but with a little twist. And the majority of that twist would be original music (but not the tunes from the movie). Like I said, let the movie go a bit and you will be fine.
3) There will be quotes from the movie, for sure. But it won’t cover ALL of them. (Brace yourself, there is no enormous burp and a “Did you hear that?”) And that’s OK. It works out just fine. In fact, this version adds in a few NEW funny quotes of it’s own. Appreciate it as an original piece of musical theater, because it is.
4) Be prepared to get into the Christmas spirit with a whole lot of song and dance.
If you go in with those expectations, you will love it. Honestly, the music was very good and the dancing was fun. It’s a great cast and I ADORED the live orchestra. I think that really adds a lot to the show. The set is great and I was impressed by how they wove the story together on a stage. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it, either. It got a standing ovation at the end.
OH, and here’s the most important part. My 9yo loved it. He laughed and recognized it and read the playbill carefully at the intermission and then raced back to his seat. On the way back to the car, he leaped around and rehashed his favorite parts. (“You smell like beef and cheese!” “You sit on a throne of lies!” “Just cool it, Zippy.”)
If you can reign in your Elf movie obsession and refrain from being too literal, and if you are prepared to just ENJOY theater that gets you into the holiday spirit, go. It will make you smile. And after all, isn’t smiling your favorite?
Elf The Musical is playing at The Straz Center in Tampa, November 20-25.