REVIEW: Elf The Musical

Buddy (Daniel Patrick Smith) and Jovie (Daryn Harrell) in Elf The Musical. Photograph by Doug Blemker.
Buddy (Daniel Patrick Smith) and Jovie (Daryn Harrell) in Elf The Musical. Photograph by Doug Blemker.

I love holiday schmaltz. Shows like ELF THE MUSICAL are what I gravitate to, especially around this time of year. So I was thrilled when I got my media invite to attend opening night despite the show being practically sold out already.

First, let me say that no show has ever sounded better in the Aronoff Center.  The volume was at an appropriate level – especially given the amount of young children talking throughout the show.  I never struggled to hear the performers and the orchestra sounded great.  Every show should be mixed this well.

Secondly, if you’re going to play a character made famous by a star like Will Ferrell then you have to be brave, charismatic and uninhibited. Daniel Patrick Smith is all those things and more.  With a likable stage presence, a tremendous singing voice, and the ability to play “Buddy” without being annoying, this young man knocks it out of the park.  He is supported by a great cast, especially Darn Harrell.  Colorblind casting, especially in a show of this nature, is refreshing and she is delightful.  I also enjoyed the work of Arthur Ross (“Store Manager”), Audra Qualley (“Deb”), Allison Mickelson (“Emiliy”), D. Scott Withers (“Walter”), and Shane Treloar (“Michael). This a very strong ensemble, especially given the non-equity nature of the tour.

I found myself tapping my toes; more importantly I – and the friend who went with me – were both smiling and laughing.  A lot.  The show is hilarious and unexpectedly sharp more often than not.  I don’t know if I’ve had this much fun at the theatre in a long time.

ELF THE MUSICAL runs through Sunday.  There were just a smattering of single tickets available as of last night; but if you can get down there to see it, I think you’d enjoy it.  Or check it out in Indianapolis in a couple of weeks. More information can be found here.

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