'Elf, the Musical' staged by Saint John Theatre Company, New Brunswick
Now onstage until November 26 at the Imperial Theatre, Saint John New Brunswick
Credit: Andrew Finlay
Aaron L. Kropf
“A “sparklejollytwinklejingley” time Saint John’s Imperial Theatre.”
It was a cold rainy night in Saint John as folks made their way to the Imperial Theatre for Saint John Theatre Company’s production of Elf: The Musical.
For anyone still not getting the feeling that Christmas is just around the corner ‘Elf, The Musical’ is sure to change that.
The musical follows the same plot as New Line Cinema’s Christmas classic. After learning that he’s human, Buddy (Scott Thomas) sets out from the North Pole to find his father. Buddy navigates the big city, the complexities of family life, and falls in love. Throughout his misadventures, he struggles to get his father (Bill Halpin) off the naughty list. From the first moment Buddy meets Jovie (Alison Dawn Campbell) he is head over heals for her.
There are a few differences from the film that make the musical version uniquely its own.
For one, the set is minimal and relies on the use of projections. This is something that I typically find more distracting than helpful in a show. However, it works here. There are smooth transitions from the Hobbs’ home, to Greenway offices, and the North Pole. Costuming by Brenda McLesse is delightful. It appears Buddy’s is an exact replica of the one worn in the film by Will Ferrell.
Saint John Theatre Company's production is delightful for some snappy musical numbers that have you humming tunes on the way home. With that said, however, the sound balance was off. I had to put in more effort to hear the lyrics during a lot of those great musical numbers. With some tweaking this could easily be remedied. Although this issue is significant, it doesn’t take away from the pure enjoyment of the show.
Director Stephen Tobias lucked out with casting Scott Thomas as Buddy. Thomas exudes a childlike wonder and exuberance. His bringing Buddy to life becomes easier for the supporting players on stage. Bill Halpin’s Walter Hobbs is tough but not scary for any of young ones in the audience. Chelsea Cusack knocks it out of the park again as Emily Hobbs.
The family unit is rounded out with Gavin Wright as Michael Hobbs who had a few vocal moments that really made me sit up and take note. He is someone else that I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of in future Saint John Theatre Company shows.
As Chadwick, James Smith is someone who stood out in 9 to 5: The Musical earlier this year, and he does so again. I hope he’s given more stage time in future productions; he might be a great fit as Bert in Mary Poppins later in the 2023/24 season?
Anyone venturing into the Imperial Theatre in the next few days will definitely be filled with the Christmas spirit after seeing Elf: The Musical. It’s not to be missed, and Saint Johner’s already knew this because the show is almost sold out.
The production runs through to November 26 at Saint John’s Imperial Theater. For tickets and other information, visit imperialtheatre.ca.