Review by Sherri Ogden Wellington
If you haven’t gotten your tickets for The Childrens’ Theatre of Cincinnati’s “Elf the Musical Jr.” you must order them right now! Wow! What an amazing production! At the beginning of the musical, Santa claims that he needs a breather because all of the elves are so happy…too happy. You will be just the right amount of happy after seeing this play, running until December 12.
“Elf the Musical Jr”. was born from a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin. Based upon the New Line Cinema film written by David Berenbaum, originally produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, it is the music by Matthew Sklar and Lyrics by Chad Beguelin make this production its own amazing creation. Directed by the multi-talented Roderick Justice, choreographed by Eric Byrd and with Jacob Priddy as the Music Director, how could this musical be anything but amazing?
Everything flowed beautifully. The scene designer(Jennifer Rhodus) transports the audience from the North Pole to various New York City locations seamlessly. Through lighting (Benjamin Gantose) and drapes, the transformations from one scene to another are often not even noticeable. The costumes reflected the location and time period with especially creative designs for the elves outfits, thanks to Jeff Shearer. The acting is professional, as what may be expected from the adults but the children, from the Young Artists Company, are so incredibly professional as well.
The story is similar to the movie “Elf.” A baby, Buddy, who is in an orphanage after his mother dies, climbs into Santa’s bag when he is dropping off toys. He is taken to the North Pole and raised as an Elf. Buddy, played by A. James Jones accidentally finds out that he is a human approximately at the legal age of 18 – 21 years old. So naturally he goes off on his own (with the help of a Narwhal) to New York City to meet his biological father. The father, Walter Hobbs, played by Dain Alan Paige, is a Type A personality who is only concerned about making money as a children’s book publisher and isn’t interested in taking on an Elf as his son.
A major underlying plot is Buddy falling in love with Jovie, played by the beautiful and talented Alloria Frayser.
Another underlying story is the relationship that Buddy forms with Walter’s wife and son. Emily, the stepmom, is played by Deb Schubert and Michael, Buddy’s half brother, is played by Griffin Hatfield. Both are endearing characters that support Buddy throughout his adventures.
The humor in many instances are for the grown ups, but clean. For instance, when Santa claims that the North Pole is unique because it doesn’t have a Starbucks and when Jovie sings about never falling in love with a guy that has a thing for tights. However, the children in the audience light up when Buddy, Santa and the elves appeared.
From the moment you walk into the beautiful Taft theatre to find elves entertaining both children and adults before the show to the end where singing and dancing raise your spirits ever higher, this show is undeniably entertaining and fun. Go and enjoy 70 minutes of pure joy! Get your tickets HERE.