Published On: Wed, Nov 21st, 2012

‘Elf the Musical’ helps spread Christmas cheer through song and laughter

The 2010 adaptation of the popular Will Ferrell film was a huge smash on Broadway and now national tour, which stops in Tampa this week, brings that Christmas cheer to life as Matt Kopec realizes Buddy’s journey for audiences.

Matt Kopec’s Buddy adding syrup to his spaghetti in “Elf the Musical” photo/Joan Marcus

Maple syrup, spaghetti and song highlight the entertaining presentation which further develops the relationship between Buddy and Walter as sugar rushed Kopec sings, dances and smiles relentlessly.

The orphaned Buddy is raised at the North Pole, growing to an adult when he discovers that he is human. The giant elf embarks on a journey to find his biological father in New York City and discovers the joy of a family, his first love and workaholic dad.

The stage presentation, written by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan, keeps all of the elements of the motion picture, but develops its own journey for Buddy. The boogie-woogie song “Nobody Cares About Santa” features a chorus line of fake mall Santas complaining about children while sharing a meal at a Chinese  restaurant.

“Christmas is all about fighting with your family,” says one of the Santas trying to cheer up Buddy, who had been thrown out by his grouchy father. The creative divergence from the film attempt to move the story along and keep Buddy the center of attention.

Kopec is center stage in the overly festive Broadway show, portraying Buddy as more goofy and flamboyant with his highly energetic performance. The choreography is delightful and appeals directly to the kids, especially the younger kids who can related to this childish Buddy instead of Ferrell’s version which was more childlike.

Matt Kopec as Buddy leading the cast in “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” photo/Joan Marcus

Gordon Gray steals every scene as Santa, especially his monologues, which have been reworked with many new modern references to Amazon and college football. Connor Barth, who plays Buddy’s brother Michael, pleased the crowd repeatedly as a very talented young singer.

Kate Hennies may have been the biggest surprise, making her national tour debut on “Elf” as Jovie, the irritable girlfriend. While the stage version of Jovie is more “witchy” (to use a cleaner version of the adjective used onstage) than her onscreen counterpart, Hennies really gets to shine as her voice is showcased during “A Christmas Song” and “Never Fall in Love.” The actress proves she has the voice to be on Broadway for some time.

The modern one-liners interwoven into the stage performance keep the audience laughing in between Kopec’s spinning in revolving doors and the cast mocking Buddy’s dad, Walter, played by Drew Pulver.

This is the ideal show for Broadway fanatics, as “Elf” isn’t going to win a ton of awards or change music theater, but this is a great experience for Christmas and entertain the vacationing children.

A warning to parents that there are a handful of cuss words and couple of “innuendos,” which might garner explanations for younger children.

“Elf the Musical” adds its own brand of fun. Ferrell’s Buddy proclaimed “The best way to spread Christmas cheer was to sing loud for all to hear,” but Matt Kopec’s Buddy spreads the cheer like a middle-school boys strung out on candy canes and Mountain Dew.

Highly recommended as a fun, great escape from the stress and anxieties of the world, but caution against die-hard fans of the film.

“Jekyll & Hyde” plays in Tampa from November 2o thru November 25 at the Straz Center, get tickets here.

The remaining shows in 2012:

Fort Myers
November 27 – December 2, 2012
Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall

St. Paul
December 5 – 30, 2012

Here’s the official synopsis:

Elf — The Musical

Elf is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF. For the official website, visit elfthemusicalontour.com.



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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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