Some of my favorite childhood holiday memories involve getting dressed up in a ridiculously frilly dress and seeing “The Nutcracker” with my parents. The dancing! The glitz! THE FACT THAT THEY TOO WERE WEARING FRILLY SKIRTS! It signified the beginning of Christmas, and it was a tradition that I was looking forward to continuing with my children. But there is one problem…
My boys hate the Nutcracker.
Maybe it’s the skirts, or the lack of poop jokes, but I can’t seem to get them excited to attend the classic ballet. So I decided to rethink this tradition and modernize it a bit.
Lucky for me I happened to catch that Theatre League’s tour of the musical “Elf,” based on the Will Ferrell movie, was coming to my area and jumped at the opportunity to have a holiday themed night of theatre with my kids.
Buddy the Elf is the main character of this perky musical, an orphan who was adopted by elves and raised in the North Pole. The plot is based around his journey to find and endear himself to his human father and family in the not-as-pleasant-as-the-North-Pole city of New York. Merriment and family love ensue, which made it a perfect theme for our holiday adventure.
This production was nicely balanced with strong talent that walked the line between energy and believability. Characters like Buddy the Elf would be very easy to overact, but lead actor Daniel Patrick Smith did a good job of finding the realism in a fantastical character. Other cast standouts included the likable Gabrielle Mirabella as the supportive stepmom, Ken Clement as the dry and very witty Santa Claus (thanks for hitting some local references during the show, we appreciated that you had done your homework), and the delightful Michael Fisher as the Store Manager.
My boys grinned in delight watching the dancers flipping and turning across the stage, especially when they danced on their knees as the elf characters. Director Sam Scalamoni made a smart choice in encouraging each ensemble member to have a distinct characters in every number, it added depth and fun to the many athletic numbers that could have easily all looked the same.
There were moments where it dragged a bit, but overall it held the attention of my 7 and 9-year-old children who live in a world where a 3-minute online video is “too long.” That alone is a giant feat, and if you add in their misty little eyes at the end when Buddy restores the spirit of Christmas, you have a home run.
And there weren’t even any poop jokes.
So make sure you take your kids to see the tour of “Elf the Musical” when it comes to your town and make it part of your new holiday tradition. It’s a fantastic alternative to the older (and lets face it, tired) Christmas shows, and I promise you and your kids will enjoy it equally. And isn’t that what a holiday tradition is all about?
The show is running through Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and then continues on tour across the US through January. Tickets and info on “Elf the Musical” can be found at www.elfthemusicalontour.com.
Laura Nickerson, Queen of cheap and local family activities, Momblogger of 2, Host of CTV's The Buzz and KHTS AM 1220's SCV Buzz, visit #buzzLA for daily tips.