Elf The Broadway Musical — A Christmas Extravaganza!

Perhaps it’s the ten-inch blanket of glittery snow on the ground, or the influx of shoppers, or perhaps even because we’ve already lit the first Hanukkah candles, but something in the air has changed to let us know that Christmas is on its way. If your holiday spirits haven’t been lifted just yet, don’t worry; the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts has got just the thing to get those red and green juices flowing. While we’ve all been filling ourselves with turkey and pumpkin pies, the Ordway staff and cast and crew of Elf The Broadway Musical spent the holiday season raising their Christmas cheer to an ultimate high in preparation for their December production right here in St. Paul.
Upon entering the Ordway, the theatergoers are greeted with fake snow and actors dressed as elves, waiting to pose for pictures that are perfect for Christmas cards or simply for sentimental value. And while there are adult beverages for the grownups, there are also an array of warm drinks and baked goods to please the kid in all of us.
Once the lights dim and the orchestra begins to play, that feeling of pres-show excitement sets in and reminds each hushed audience member to brace themselves for an unforgettable show. Even the standard announcements—turn off cell phones, unwrap candy canes, etc.—are made by a jolly, joke-telling Santa Claus. Santa’s presence sets the tone for the next three hours, as the play is lined with modern humor for all ages.
I came in with high expectations for the musical, having loved the 2003 movie of the same name with Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel. I loved all the actors, especially Matt Kopec who plays the lead character Buddy, a human who grew up in the North Pole believing he was an elf. Kopec does a spectacular job capturing such a quirky character. The costumes and set designs, too, are whimsical and fun. Just seeing the brilliantly designed North Pole made me want to start singing. That too—the excellent songs and well-choreographed dances—will certainly force your hands into applause at the end of each number.
I am a particularly harsh critic of vocal talent, but I am pleased to say that I was impressed by the vocal capabilities of all the cast members, particularly the leads. Deb, played by Jen Bechter, is one of the funniest characters in the play. I laughed at almost every one of her lines, despite her rather limited role as the secretary of Buddy’s father, Walter. Not all the cast members have quite as much chemistry on stage as Kopec and Bechter; but they all act with an abundance of energy and holiday cheer.
Despite the incredible liveliness and playful tone offered in the first act, it apparently wasn’t enough to de-Grinchify all audience members, as some didn’t return after intermission. Perhaps they were distracted by some mistletoe, or preferred to sip on a few drinks in the lobby.
Jews have written many of the most beloved Christmas hits, and Elf The Broadway Musical is no different. Matthew Sklar, a Jewish man from New Jersey composed the score of this Christmas musical; though his partner who wrote the lyrics, Chad Beguelin, is not Jewish. And though Buddy’s ultimate goal is to find his father and help New York remember the meaning of Christmas, there are a number of lines and references that relate directly to Judaism. There are even a few Yiddish words in the script!
No matter which holiday you celebrate this year, this “sparkle jolly twinkle jingly” Christmas extravaganza is a warm holiday treat that’s not to be missed.
Elf The Broadway Musical is playing at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, now through December 30th. Learn more on their website. You can also order tickets online, or by phone: (651) 224-4222.
This is a guest post by Monica Routman. Monica is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas with a BA in English Creative Writing. When she isn’t expressing herself through the written form, she can often be found doing so through other mediums. 
*The FTC made me do it: Disclosure of Material Connection: TC Jewfolk received free tickets to Elf The Broadway Musical in the hope that we would mention it on TC Jewfolk. But getting the tickets for free doesn’t mean that we were obligated to give a glowing review. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Blah, blah, blah…