If you decide to go see ELF—The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre, you need to be prepared … you need to be prepared to smile until your face cramps, laugh until your belly hurts, tap your toes, bounce in your seat, and even be ready to wipe a tear or two. Yes folks, prepare yourselves to fall in love.
ELF—The Musical is relatively new to the Christmas story genre, and even newer in the world of musicals. Yet a single viewing is all it takes for this musical to worm its way into your heart and claim a permanent spot among your favorite holiday things. While the show is strong on traditional holiday themes such as the importance of family and a hard-hearted soul finding the spirit of Christmas, it does so with a modern vibe. From the stylized set decoration to the music and lyrics from up-and-coming duo Sklar and Beguelin, Elf has a very contemporary look and feel.
The story is based on the journey of self-discovery of one, Buddy the Elf. Having crawled into Santa's bag as a baby, Buddy has grown up at the North Pole believing that he is an elf. Once he learns the truth of his humanness, Santa encourages him to reconnect with his father. Throughout his trip to and around New York, Buddy discovers that he is not the only person searching for something. Buddy is a walking embodiment of the Christmas spirit, and the jaded people he encounters can't help but be changed by his hope and the purity of his belief.
While the story is certainly one that is lovely and appropriate to share with your whole family, it is the uproariously funny aspects of the show that set it apart. The dancing elves portrayed by actors on their knees with elf shoes attached to knee pads caused so much laughter that you could barely hear them singing. My 8-year-old daughter was literally bouncing up and down in her seat.
Buddy's over-the-top, happy-go-lucky attitude was just so darn contagious. He always has an over-exaggerated smile on his face, and so did we. I heard more than one comment of delightful surprise at the vocal prowess of Noah Barr, the child actor who played Michael Hobbs, a boy Buddy befriends. My daughter always loves a show that includes kids, and I bet she's not alone.
The only possible downside of the show, is that the weekday showings start a little late for families. Most of the evening shows start at 7:30 p.m., and while the show was certainly able to maintain the rapt attention of my 8-year-old, it was a bit rough getting her up the next morning. It has a run time of two hours and 15 minutes, including intermission.
The theatre offers booster cushions for children, so be sure to grab one on your way in or they may run out, especially during a matinee performance when there are more kids in the audience.
I'll be the first to admit, I was not prepared for the pure joy of this show. I was completely bowled over by it. The only thing that surpassed my enjoyment of the show was watching how much my daughter loved it, too.
IF YOU GO
Where: The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 5th Ave., Seattle.
When: Now through Dec. 31 with show times at 1:30, 2, 7 and 7:30 p.m., depending on the day.
Cost: Tickets range from $85 to $155, depending on the seat location and time of performance. The theatre recommends the show for kids ages 4 and older.
Contact: 206-625-1900 or www.5thavenue.org.