After what most people would consider to be another pretty miserable year, we’ve reached the point where we’re relying on theatre to bring us some much needed festive spirit and joy, and one of the first sleighs out the gate is the new production of ELF: The Musical now open at the Dominion Theatre.
This isn’t the musical’s first time in the West End, but the production has been given a spruce up for this year’s run. Audiences will, of course, already have an inkling of what to expect, because who hasn’t seen the beloved 2003 hit movie starring Will Ferrell, on which this musical is based?
With a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, and songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, the musical follows Buddy the Elf, played here by Simon Lipkin, as he discovers that he was found as a baby in Santa’s sack, and wasn’t born an elf as he’d always believed.
So, it’s off to Manhattan for Buddy, as he tracks down his birth father, falling in love with Jovie along the way. Like the movie, so much of the comedy comes from Buddy’s unfamiliarity with the human world, an innocent abroad scenario that’s both hilarious and heart-warming.
Speaking of which, ELF: The Musical comes with a very touching story arc between Buddy’s step-mum, Emily (Rebecca Lock) and her son Michael (Logan Clark on press night). The relationship between the two could melt the hardest of hearts, and their duets, such as ‘There Is A Santa Claus’ are beautifully done.
Simon Lipkin is bursting with energetic joie de vivre as the ever-innocent buddy. You can tell Lipkin is having fun with the role, and may even have thrown in the odd ad-lib for extra comic effect. Lipkin works well with Georgina Castle in the role of Jovie, who creates a version of the character that’s subtly different from the film but is perfect for the stage version.
ELF: The Musical has a surprisingly enjoyable score, with a plenty of big ensemble numbers, such as ‘Sparklejollytwinklejingley’ and ‘Nobody Cares About Santa’, accompanied by Liam Steel’s vivid choreography, they have the audience toe tapping along in unrestrained joy.
The vast Dominion stage is bursting with Christmas cheer, with fantastic set design from Tim Goodchild. But it’s Philip Wm. McKinley’s considered vision as director that brings all the elements together to create this Christmas treat for all the family, with a surprise finale that brings out the child in all of us.
Audiences who are worried this stage version might be an Asda-price version of the movie, needn’t worry. This production of ELF: The Musical offers a version of the beloved story that spreads Christmas cheer for all in London to hear.