It may be 60 degrees today in the Triangle, but make no mistake, we are in the throws of the Holidays and Christmas is only three weeks away! And just in time for the holidays “Elf The Musical” is rolling into town with performances at DPAC starting this Tuesday, December 4th through Sunday December 9th.
It’s hard to believe “Elf” first hit the big screen over 15 years ago and has become a modern Christmas Classic. The movie made the transition to the stage as a musical in 2010 featuring jazzy upbeat score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. And ever since then the touring production returns to delight audiences each holiday season. If you’re like me you have probably seen the movie, but I am really looking forward to seeing this story in a musical format and transformed into a live production.
The musical tells the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who through a mishap ends up working in Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth leading him to embark on a journey to New York City to find his birth father. Along the way he will discover his true identity, learn what its like to have a family and help New Yorkers remember the true meaning of Christmas.
In preparation of the show I had a chance to speak to actor John Adkison by phone. John plays Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s birth father and a guy who always seems to be on Santa’s Naught List.
This is John’s second holiday season touring with the “Elf the Musical”. His other credits include playing Harold Hill the national touring production of The Music Man and numerous regional theater productions such as Damn Yankees (Mr. Applegate), 1776 (John Hancock), Grease (Vince Fontaine) and Disney’s Beauty & the Beast (Lumiere). When not on stage John works as an independent filmmaker developing documentaries by This’n That Films. For the past 16 years, each holiday season (when is not on tour with Elf) he has also performed as part of a professional Christmas Caroling Group in California.
How is the Theater Production of Elf different from the Movie?
Well the story stays true to the movie in many ways but there are a few changes that are made for the transition to the stage. All of your favorite scenes are still there, but we’ve added a few elements for the stage production but the story is still the same. Santa, Buddy, and all the main characters are there, but there may be small shifts in their personality. Like my character Walter. James Caan is wonderful in that role. For the stage production Walter is less of an angry executive and played off more as just a super busy businessman who doesn’t make time for his family.
What do you hope people take away from seeing the show?
The holidays about family, whoever that may be, taking the time to slow down, connect with the ones you love and share time with family. This is a wonderful show with a great cast that can really put on a performance with a lot of energy and holiday spirit. I think the audience is in for a real holiday treat!
What is your favorite part of the show?
Honestly there are so many great numbers, both those I am in and those that I am not. At the end of the day my favorite part of the show is seeing the reaction of the audience members and the children watching the show. Sometimes I’ll hear a child yell out a warning to buddy, or see somebody dancing in their seat just having the time of their life. Those moments of witnessing joy are my favorite part of the show.
In addition to acting you are also an independent film maker. What is it like trying to balance both careers?
I consider myself very lucky to have both the opportunity to act and produce independent films. When I am not working with a production I am working on my own film projects. But I have a love for both. My major in school was film / television production with a minor in theater. I can sing, dance, and act but I also love to produce independent films. I am very fortunate!
What do you like to do when you visit a city on tour?
I make documentaries so you know I love history. I love checking out local museums and monuments in every city I visit and take in as much history as I can while I am on the road. I’ve spent time in North Carolina before working in a regional theater in Blowing Rock, NC and I am looking forward to visiting Durham for the first time!
“Elf The Musical” has performances Tuesday, December 2nd, through Sunday, December 9th at The Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information and to get tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/elf
Special Note: DPAC will host an Autism-Friendly performance of Elf on Saturday, December 8th, at 10am. There will be less loud noises and flashing lights that could be challenging to some audience members. DPAC will also have designated areas to help make the experience more enjoyable for those with autism and other sensitivity issues. For more details about this sensory friendly performance visit their DPAC website here.