Here’s the problem reviewing something involving Christmas: If you have anything negative to say, you come off looking like a monster. So you think It’s a Wonderful Life is a chore to watch? “Go back to your country!” someone will shout. It’s an unfair sentiment because some Christmas things are bad. If Christmas entertainment was infallible, the Lifetime network would be sweeping the Emmys with The Christmas Prince or Santa Is My Stepdad.
Such is the problem when talking about Elf: The Musical, which plays at the Music Hall at Fair Park through Dec. 2. The Will Ferrell movie that the musical is based on is widely considered sacred mandatory viewing every year, and there’s a generation of young teenagers that has never known a world without this film. If that same generation holds Elf in such high reverence, maybe it’s best they don’t see a musical version of it. Or should they?
If you hate musicals, nothing will probably change your mind. Alternatively, maybe you love Christmas so much, this is the one time of year you sing. Elf: The Musical will mean so many different things to different groups of people that it’s impossible to give a review that covers all. So we’re not going to. Instead, we’re going to do this like an old Pick Your Own Adventure book. Below find the group you think you best identify with, then scroll down and read your number. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.
- 1. People Who Love All Musicals
- 2. Children 4-9
- 3. Males 10-Infinity
- 4. People Who Freakishly Love Christmas
- 5. People Who Don’t Understand English
1. You are going to have such a great time watching Elf: The Musical. Buddy the elf, played by Eric Williams, is a delight as he performs with a manic energy necessary to bring such an idealistic character to life. Keep an eye on Buddy’s half brother Michael, as performed by Grady Miranda. Though smaller than the rest of the cast, Miranda’s voice might be the strongest of all, hitting notes that will bring the audience to their feet when he takes his final bow. The jokes are quick, the pace of the show is speedy without seeming rushed and the set design looks like a pop-up storybook come to life. If you’re on a date with your favorite guy, don’t read (3). He’s having a great time.
2. You are going to have so much fun watching Buddy the elf go on his adventure to meet his dad! Buddy dances and sings a lot, and he makes lots of silly jokes you might not understand, but they’ll still be really funny to you. Santa is there and he flies around on his sleigh! Santa’s elves make toys at the North Pole and Mrs. Claus dances with them, just like you always imagined she did! You should be really proud of yourself for reading this by yourself. Make sure to do everything Mommy and Daddy say, and Santa will bring you that present you asked him for. Now go eat some candy.
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3. This is not going to be one of the better nights of your life. You liked Elf just fine the last time you watched it, but something feels like it’s missing during the musical. The relationship between Buddy and the other characters seems forced because any attempt at character development is sacrificed for a song that sounds pretty much like the last song before it. Every now and then a joke will go your way that makes you chuckle, but as you look around at the other smiling faces in the audience you’ll wonder, “Am I a dick for not liking this?” You’re not, this just probably wasn’t meant for you. If you’re on a date, and you most certainly are, here’s the best advice: Go read (1) or (4) and say something positive from one of those to make it appear you’re a team player. If they say they want to see it again, fake a knee injury.
4. If you weren’t already in the Christmas spirit, you will be after the final curtain of Elf: The Musical. But who are we kidding? Of course you were in the Christmas spirit! The 5-year-old kid inside will be doing backflips as you see the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer-inspired elf outfits fully realized onstage mere feet away from you. Although certain changes are made to the story you’re familiar with, such as an omission of love interest Jovie singing "Baby It’s Cold Outside" to a swooning Buddy, the beats of the modern Christmas classic remain intact. If you’re a fan of all things red and green, you’ll soon add Elf: The Musical to your list.
5. You’re not going to get much out of this, but there are a lot of bright colors that should be pleasing to see. Sometimes the elves dance on their knees, and dance is kind of the universal language when you think about it. The tall guy wearing the green pointy hat is really expressive, so you can tell if he’s happy or sad by his face. Unfortunately, you won’t understand any of this.
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