It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago it was 70 degrees in the Triangle. Fast forward to this week and it finally felt like the holiday season had arrived in Durham this past Tuesday as my wife and I made our way to DPAC for opening night of “Elf the Musical”. By the end of the evening we had visions of dancing elves and the melody from the song “Buddy the Elf” cheerfully running through our heads
As we hustled into the theater to escape the cold outside before the show I saw more than a few Santa hats and even a few audience members people completely decked out in elf costumes. Christmas cheer was in the air! I’m a big fan of the 2003 hit movie “Elf” and was excited to see the live production on stage.
The touring production does a nice job transitioning the hit movie to the stage with the help of a talented cast and some wonderfully designed sets. There are a few minor changes to the story to condense the plot and make time for the musical numbers, but all the major elements of the story from the film are still there. Eric Williams delivers a cheerful performance as Buddy the Elf as he journeys from the North Pole to New York City in search of his birth father, only discover that his real Dad is a workaholic and has lost the his Christmas spirit.
Having grown up surrounded by elves and living off a diet of candy and maple syrup, Buddy is a fish out of water in the big city, but manages to spread Christmas cheer to everyone he encounters as he works on building a relationship with his real Dad and family. In the process buddy helps the people of New York rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.
The production does a wonderful job bringing the movie to life on stage with a colorful and magical set designs by Christine Peters that capture the mythical spirit of the North Pole and the larger than life feel of bustling New York City Streets. The beautifully choreographed dance numbers by Connor Gallagher add a dose of razzle dazzle to this holiday story and serve as a reminder that underneath those elf costumes and business suites the company on stage really knows how to deliver a dance number.
In addition to Eric Williams as Buddy, other standout performances included that of Grady Miranda as Buddy’s brother. He has a strong signing voice with vocal chops beyond his years and was beautifully paired with Caitlin Lester-Sams as his mother. Together the two delivered some of the most moving duets of the night. I also liked the way John Adkison portrays Buddy’s Father, Walter Hobbs. He is less angry than in the movie and does a nice job of embodying the work focused dad who, while well meaning has lost his way. The manner in which he stands up for Buddy and his family in the end will warm your heart.
Going to see a Christmas show like this live on stage is a wonderful way to build delightful holiday memories with your kids. Elf the Musical is fun and endearing show, that spreads Christmas cheer and the importance of family and makes for a fun night out with the ones you love. You’ll leave the theater smiling and humming the closing number as you ease back into the holiday hustle. Remember, “the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf
“Elf The Musical” has performances 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