Bringing everybody’s favourite festive film to life on stage, Elf the musical tells the story of Buddy the elf and his adventures in New York as he embarks on a search to find his dad.
After growing up as an Elf in the North Pole for 30 years of his life he learns that he is actually a human, despite his huge love and obsession for all things Christmas. Buddy is disappointed to find out his dad, a publisher of children’s books, isn’t quite as festive and his workaholic personality has created his dislike towards Christmas and all the fuss around it.
Going into the musical you’re likely to be sceptical that anyone can perform the role of Buddy as good as Will Ferrell, but Ben Forster is unbelievably brilliant as the excitable and overly enthusiastic Buddy. His infectious personality is highly expressive, creating a character that the audience is utterly charmed by. He completely encapsulates every element of the role and the addition of his impressive vocals that belt out his big numbers proves he is perfectly cast.
Upon his arrival in New York he stumbles into Macys and fits right in with the staff working as Christmas elves. Here he meets love interest Jovie played by Liv McClarnon who brings real warmth to the role. With excellent vocals and a witty sarcastic tone, her encounters with Buddy are superb and it is sweet to watch their relationship grow, a particular highlight being their duet Christmas Song.
The family dynamic between the Hobbs’ is strained as Emily and her son Michael are just desperate for Walter to take some time off work to spend the festive period with them. Joe McGann’s performance as Buddy’s father Walter is strong, his deep bellowing voice and assertive tone portrays his colder heart, confirming as to why he is on Santa’s naughty list. Jessica Martin’s characterisation as Emily Hobbs is hilarious due to her exaggerative persona.
I didn’t think there was much you could do to make this musical better than the original motion picture, but add song, dance, snow and a whole lot of magic and this production has absolutely excelled the classic film. The ensemble numbers really bring the story to life with oompa loompa style dancing elves, seamlessly striking tap dance and the jazzy tones and jingle bells of the orchestra.
The production values are strong and create a fabulously festive atmosphere that will have you grinning from ear to ear throughout, and there are some magical surprises in the second act that will leave you spellbound. The heart-warming story is crafted with wit and humour and enhanced by the sensational soundtrack sung exceptionally by the cast.
Elf the musical is everything you love about Christmas with even more magic thrown in. The sparkling choreography and catchy songs guarantee to have you singing all the way home, and the musical numbers in this production really do prove that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.
Elf the Musical is on at the Lowry in Salford until the 14th of January, tickets and information can be found here.