‘Elf the Musical’ at PTC Joyously Ushers in the Holiday Season

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Max Chernin as Buddy the Elf in “Elf the Musical.” (Courtesy BW Productions)

By Luke Jackson, Arts Writer

 

The boundary between the Christmas season and the rest of the year becomes seemingly thinner and thinner as time goes on. I find myself making excuses to play Christmas music in October and, before I know it, the stockings are up and the tree is trimmed.

While I am confident I am not alone in prematurely ushering in the Holiday season, I no longer need to be insecure or worried. That’s right — the socially acceptable time to prepare for Christmas is upon us!

What better way to celebrate this magical time than attending a musical version of a beloved Christmas cinema classic? Santa has come early this year in the form of Pioneer Theatre Company’s “Elf the Musical,” and this lucky duck got to see it opening night.

Christmas is Here!

Christmas cheer was clearly in the air as we packed ourselves into the Pioneer Memorial Theatre. Friends, families and ugly Christmas sweaters were around every corner as we settled into our seats, the stage glowing with blue swirling snowflakes and the bustling sound of brass and woodwinds raring to go.

Before we knew it, Santa entered from stage left and welcomed the crowd with a hearty round of applause. The jolly ol’ man was there to tell us a familiar story, one of Buddy the Elf.

Soon enough, the stage was full of jumping elves in fake beards and bright costumes. Everyone in the audience was toe-tapping to the bouncy score of Matthew Sklar, which accented the quirky, Christmas-obsessed antics of our musical protagonist, Buddy (Max Chernin).

Max Chernin as Buddy the Elf in “Elf the Musical.” (Courtesy of pioneertheatre.org)

A Simple Message

The musical’s narrative, while easy to follow, quickly overwhelms itself with trying to bring the same simple storybook magic present in the source material. The writing is at times witty, but it often falls flat and leads to characters without much substance.

A similar sentiment is shared by the music numbers. Externally they are cheerful and fun, but they do little to engage the audience and create an exciting story. In a creative trifecta, the performances — while the talent was undeniable — felt over-rehearsed and lacked a certain gravitas that the setting and costume design upheld.

Yet, at the heart of “Elf the Musical” is a message of Christmas spirit — a message which states that the magic of Christmas comes not from what is around us, but from what is in our hearts. Yes, certain aspects of the musical could use some polish, but this message rings true throughout the spectacle of stage production.

I was constantly reminded of my love for Christmas, snowball fights and my family. This same love was evident in those around me as well. Children laughed, couples held hands, and smiles were held by all in attendance.

For me, “Elf the Musical” was an absolute success. It creates an easy and enjoyable evening that loudly shouts from the rooftops that Christmas is indeed here once again. Odds are it’s not going to blow your mind, but like Buddy the ever-lovable elf, it will go to every possible length to get you in the Christmas spirit.

“Elf the Musical” runs at PTC through Dec. 18.

 

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