Theatre Mirror Reviews - "ELF JR."

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone



”ELF JR.”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone



The holiday show at the historic Stadium Theatre is "Elf Jr." Based on the beloved holiday film, this hilarious fish out of the water comedy follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. Buddy, a young orphan mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised unaware that he is actually a human, until his 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 and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list, by being almost Scrooge-like, and his stepbrother doesn't even believe in Santa. Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. Director Dillon Tognacci casts these roles wonderfully while Alex Tirrell the musical director taught them the beautiful music, conducts a five piece orchestra while playing lead keyboards. Choreographer Julia Nelson supplies some phenomenal dance numbers to this 33 member cast and they execute everyone of them perfectly. What a terrific alternative to "A Christmas Carol", the musical version of "The Elf" is and it wins a resounding ovation at its heartwarming message about the true meaning of the Christmas season.

The set design by Dillon is fabulous as are the lighting effects by technical director T.J. Boisvert especially the star backdrop which kept changing colors all night long. The show opens on Santa and his elves singing "Happy All the Time'' which sets the mood for this musical treat which is the gift of laughter which we all need at this time of the year. The singing and dancing is dynamic with pirouettes in the air in perfect unison, tap dancing and the Charleston to name a few. Leading this cast as Buddy is Troy Wheeler. He is high energy, fantastic and captures this role splendidly. His first entrance through the audience is dynamite. Troy is onstage almost the whole show. His strong voice sells "World's Greatest Dad" when he finds his long lost father who is less than thrilled, "Sparklejollytwinklejingley" when he is sent to Macy's and cheers up the staff where they break into a phenomenal song and dance routine which stops the show, "A Christmas Song" when he falls in love with Jovie and "The Story of Buddy" when he tells the mean Mr. Greenlaw his true story only to have him want to change it to a horse at the North Pole. Buddy finally gets his father to understand the true meaning of Christmas and be with his family at Christmas. "A Christmas Song" is the last number which leaves you with a lump in your throat as you realize the importance of Christmas, too. Jovie's wish for snow is realized and the people of New York finally believe in the Christmas spirit. It isn't material things after all! Troy delivers a tour-de-force performance in this role.

Keith Beck plays the hard working Mr. Hobbs. His mean veneer cracks after a long while but it is truly worth the wait to see him stand up to his hard hearted boss at last. Tori Richard plays the sympathetic role of Emily, his wife while Marcus D'Angelo plays the younger brother, Michael. He and his mom tug on your heartstrings with "I'll Believe in You" when they long for a warmhearted Christmas celebration together and when they finally see Santa in "I Believe in Santa Claus." They are superb in these two roles, delivering the emotional punch the musical needs. Juliana Rivelli plays the spunky, Jovie, the elf who works at Macy's but isn't filled with the Christmas spirit until she encounters Buddy, the real elf. Her one liners are hilarious and her voice soars in "Never Fall in Love with an Elf" when Buddy stands her up on their date at Tavern on the Green. Her veneer crumbles at the snow as she sings "A Christmas Song" which transforms NYC into believing in Santa at last. The stressed out real Santa is wonderfully played by Aidan Lamont. He tells Buddy that he is a human elf and how he came to be at the North Pole. Mr. Hobb's comic secretary is played to the hilt by Lucy Joachim-DelPolo. She wins many laughs in this role especially when she tells the story about the boy with one leg. Kudos to the entire energetic and hard working cast who present the true meaning of Christmas in the songs and dances in this brilliantly done musical. Run do not walk to the box office to catch this show before the tickets sell out. Tell them Tony sent you to see "Elf Jr.'' at the Stadium Theatre.

ELF JR. (18 to 19 November)
Stadium Theatre, Monument Square, Woonsocket, RI
1(401)762-4545 or www.stadiumtheatre.com




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