Saturday February 24th 2018

“Elf, The Musical”

Once again, the Paramount Theatre has made a play an experience! Many people are familiar with the film “Elf” that was a smash hit for Will Ferrell (2003- is it really almost 15 years ago?). It was made into a musical that had a fairly solid run on Broadway and then toured. When it hit Chicago as part of the BIC ( Broadway In Chicago) season, it was fun, cute and lasted a short time. Marriott Lincolnshire did the show and did a splendid job, despite it being an in-the-round venue making it difficult to create some of the illusions, but now, Paramount, under the clever leadership of Artistic Director Jim Corti has taken this production to a new level.

For those unfamiliar with “Elf”, it was a holiday film about a human, who somehow got into Santa’s bag during a Christmas Eve and was found by the elves upon Santa’s return home to The North Pole. His name was Buddy and the elves raised him as one of their own despite his “tallness” and his being a human being. Now, Buddy is an adult and Santa feels it is time to tell him the truth and send him to New York to visit his dad, a children’s book publishing executive. Santa, by the way is played by the same Santa that Marriott used (Roger Mueller, who is perfect for the role and even stronger in this production than in the previous one). Buddy is played by  Kyle Adams, a tall drink of water who is new to the Paramount, but based on what we see in this production, will be on this stage again. His father, who was unaware that he even existed is played by  Veteran  Michael Accardo, who handles the anti-Christmas attitude perfectly. Turns out that his father is married to another woman, Emily ( played with just the right zest by Lara Filip) and they have a son, Michael ( Oliver  Boomer- what a bright young talent) who becomes Buddy’s best friend.

Buddy lands a job at Macy’s (the store manager is played by Jeff-Award winner Jonathan Butler- Duplessis who will be leaving the show on New Year’s Eve, BUT do not feel as if anything will be lost, as taking over the role will be Chicago favorite James Earl Jones II) .There  he meets a young woman named Jovie ( the incredible Samantha Pauly) ,who by the time the finale comes on, has become his mate, and as it should, this holiday story has the happiest of endings. The book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin follows the movie, but being a musical makes it easier to follow. The music by Matthew Sklar with lyrics by Chad Beguelin are not memorable songs, but they do fit the story and continue to allow the flow of action to be followed with great ease. “World’s Greatest Dad”, “I’ll Believe In You”, “A Christmas Song”, ” Nobody Cares About Santa” are just a few of the selections that do make you think a little about the spirit of the season.

Corti, who knows his stage better than any other director and is a genius when it comes to doing things that are “out of the box” that people will always recall, once again  has used  Amber Mak to direct and choreograph a major show.The set

(Jeffrey D. Kmiec) which brings us the big city and the North Pole, costume design by Theresa Ham, lighting (Greg Hoffman) and sound(Adam Rosenthal) along with some wonderful projections by Joseph A. Burke. Katie Cordts handles the wigs, hair and make-up and the props are designed and assembled by Amanda Relaford. Jaq Siefert did the fight choreography and the production re-uses the hardware that once moved Mary Poppins from stage to balcony to guide Santa with his sleigh in spectacular fashion.

This is a top-notch production of a musical that is not as well written as this production makes it become. The ensemble players are powerful with voices that make the music seem better than it really is and there are some great dance numbers ( worth the trip to Aurora for , on their own). Rashada Dawan,George Keating, Colleen Johnson, J. Tyler Whitmer, Emily Agy, Haley Jane Schafer, Matt Casey, Michael Ehlers, Megan E. Farley, Will Herndon and Danny Dwaine Wells II. Rounding out his powerhouse are  Charlie Ward, Elana Romanowski, Spencer Moss, Theo Moss, Zoe Nadal, Sara Reinecke, Tova Love Kaplan, Ashley Lanyon, Sophie Kaegi, Harmonie Kalous, Allyson Graves, Gilbert Domally and Grier Burke. I hope I did not leave anyone out- if I did, I apologize!

The musical direction is once again handled by Tom Vendafreddo and his amazing orchestra. While “Elf The Musical” is certainly not a classic holiday play, and the movie is certainly not one that everyone desires to see, both are filled with a message about the spirit of this time of year and will be worth a family trip to see (together). During this time of year, with all the hustle and bustle of gift-giving, parties to attend or plan and perhaps that trip to visit family members, we often forget about the spirit that makes this a special time. I am a Santa during the season for many poor families as well as homeless people whom we feed on Christmas Day, so I know the feeling to the rewards of giving over receiving. Buddy makes us see the light and makes “Elf the Musical” a worthwhile play to see- you will enjoy.

“Elf the Musical” will continue at The Paramount Theatre located at 23 E. Galena Street in Aurora thru January 7th, 2018 with performances as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

Sun, Nov 26: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Wed, Nov 29: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Nov 30: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 1: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 2: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Dec 3: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Wed, Dec 6: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 7: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 8: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 9: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Dec 10: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Tue, Dec 12: 7:00pm
Wed, Dec 13: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 14: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 15: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 16: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Dec 17: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Wed, Dec 20: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 21: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 22: 1:30pm & 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 23: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Dec 24: 1:00pm
Wed, Dec 27: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 28: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 29: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 30: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Dec 31: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Wed, Jan 3: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Jan 4: 12:00pm & 5:00pm
Fri, Jan 5: 8:00pm
Sat, Jan 6: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Jan 7: 1:00pm & 5:30pm

 

 

Price: $36-$74

 

Box Office: 630-896-6666
www.paramountaurora.com/

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Elf The Musical”

 

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