Georgina Castle is no stranger to the West End, and this Christmas will take on the role of a lifetime playing Jovie in ELF The Musical at the Dominion Theatre. Based on the beloved 2003 New Line Cinema hit starring Will Ferrell, ELF features a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, with songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin.
ELF is the funny and charming tale of Buddy, who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts as a baby and is transported back to the North Pole and raised as an elf! Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities finally cause him to face the truth and realise he’ll never belong in the North Pole. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
This new production will be directed by Philip Wm. McKinley and sees Georgina Castle take on the role made famous by Zooey Deschanel on screen.
This isn’t Georgina’s first screen to stage adaptation, having previously starred in 9 to 5 The Musical and Dirty Dancing. Most recently Georgina has been playing Marie in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella. It’s the dream career for Georgina, who says, “In one way, I’m completely the biggest walking cliché, because I’ve wanted to do this since I was three years old. I just remember always wanting to be on the stage.”
“But then on the other hand, I didn’t sort of decide to try to make this my living until quite late on, when I was 17 and I had just finished my A Levels, and it was sort of a toss-up between university or drama school.”
Georgina had already been signed by Disney at this point, but it didn’t lead to the career that Georgina hoped it would, “this industry is full of rejection, and I got a little taste of it early on, but it didn’t deter me, it just made me want to do this more. I ended up going to drama school and then I’ve been lucky so far since then, in that I have worked pretty consistently.”
Having chosen drama school over university, Georgina wondered if she had made the right decision, “I found drama school quite a difficult environment to navigate because the training there was so intense, it was much darker than I thought it was going to be, but I’m really grateful for it now, because I think for everything to be rooted in acting is really important.”
Georgina reflects that the shows she’s been cast in since graduating all tend to be feel-good and entertaining shows, “and now I’m in Elf, which is sort of like that on steroids,” laughs Georgina, “it’s probably one of the best stories in the world, so it’s just good for the heart and it’s good for the soul to be doing something so jolly.”
For Georgina, this is the perfect movie adaptation, “I guess, with the transition from movies to musical, the synergy isn’t always there, but Elf just lends itself to that. It is so happy, so camp, so joyful, and so fun for all the family. You can have little ones in to watch but I think there’s something for all the adults as well to really enjoy.”
“I actually love doing a transition from movie to a musical because the audience come in ready to have a good time. So the good thing is you don’t need to win them over, but you can absolutely lose them. So it’s like you can’t rest on the fact that they know and love the movie. You want it to be its own thing, you want it to be the stage show, but also, people are coming in, with memories of what they’ve seen on the screen.”
The character of Jovie is Buddy’s love interest, and Georgina is very excited to be playing the role, “I know this sounds so cheesy, but she really does go on a journey. She’s a little bit cynical, she’s really hurt, her guard is right up, but that’s also fun because I do enjoy playing someone with a bit of bite.”
“And then she just discovers her inner child again, and falls in love with her whole heart for the first time, and falls back in love with Christmas, and it’s just really joyful to get all of this out of a character.”
Georgina is keen to bring some of the movie version of Jovie to the stage, “Zooey Deschanel is so hilariously deadpan, and she almost does nothing, and it’s hilarious. So what I’m trying to do is bring that same thing, but also you’ve got to be seen doing that in a theatre that seats over 2000 people. So I’m still working it out, I guess, because I really like that and I want to bring that into my performance.”
“Where I start from with any role is a place of how would I say it rather than how would that character do it? Which I don’t know is the right way around. I guess everybody has a different way of connecting to things and making it truthful. But, I think that’s why sometimes whenever I do a show, I end up turning a little bit into my character, which is always a good thing.”
Georgina already has a favourite moment in the show, “there’s a date scene between Buddy and Jovie and that’s when she finds her voice again, she starts singing, and falls in love. It’s just like a really gorgeous scene.”
This is the first time that Georgina will have performed in a show that’s specifically for the festive season, “it’s so great to be doing a big musical for Christmas, I’m excited to be doing something that’s just for the families, just to see the kids in the audience.”
But is Georgina worried being in the show might take away the magic of her own Christmas? “I’ve already started wearing Christmas socks and I’m not like that usually.” Laughs Gergina, “It takes me a while to get into the Christmas spirit, but this year, I’m ignoring Halloween and my birthday and going straight to Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. That’s all I’m thinking about.”
It’s just three weeks into rehearsals as we sit down to chat, and there’s still a lot of work to do on the show, “We’re going to be really ready for an audience by the time we open, because it just comes alive in a whole new way, it’s a living, breathing organism, and I know audiences will just fall in love with Buddy.”
Buddy is played by Simon Lipkin, “I’m so excited to be working with Simon, he’s just so hilarious with absolute genius comic timing, he doesn’t copy Will Ferrell, but he has his own comedy style which is in the heart of the whole show.”
Like her cast mates, Georgina is aware that this is a challenging time for everyone, “I know it’s hard for a lot of people right now, but I think after the couple of years we’ve had, this is the perfect way to bring some joy and good times into our lives, think how wonderful it would be to walk around London looking at the lights, then finish off the day with a shared experience at the theatre, and Elf is perfect for that, it’s just so magical.”
ELF The Musical, starring Georgina Castle as Jovie, is at the Dominion Theatre 14 November 2022 – 7 January 2023.