Elf the Musical

Date 19th November 2021
Society Starlight Theatre Productions
Venue Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Type of Production Musical
Director Val Shield
Musical Director Malcolm Moffat
Choreographer Jenn Tweddle
Producer Ken Anderson

Report

Author: Michael L Avery

I must mention, in opening, that this is the first amateur show I have seen since March 2020. What a pleasure, to see the Tyne Theatre filled to capacity and a big stage filled with familiar and unfamiliar faces doing what they love to do. It is so good to be back.

Elf the Musical seems a very suitable show to reopen with, especially at this time of year.  The show is based on the film Elf, starring Will Ferrell, with a score by Matthew Sklar (music) and Chad Beguelin (lyrics) and a book adapted from the film by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan.  They have an interesting track record, one or more of them having been involved in Annie, The Producers, Hairspray, Young Frankenstein, The Wedding Singer and more.

We meet Buddy (Michael Skoyles) working hard amongst Santa’s elves. He stands out a little, as he is twice as tall as them. This is explained when he discovers he is neither Santa’s son, nor an elf, but a human foundling who fell out of Santa’s sack, on his return from delivering presents, many years ago. Naively, Buddy sets off into the world, well New York City, to find his real father, Walter Hobbs (Andrew Fearon) plus a step-mother, Emily (Kim Wilde) and a little brother, Michael (Cody Martin). Hobbs is dismissive initially but Emily and Michael find themselves rooting for their new found, rather unusual new relative. Then the pretty Jovie (Helen Cash) crosses Buddy’s path. Naturally, the course of true love does not run smoothly when Buddy turns up very late for a reluctant date, Buddy has been busy trying to educate his family, particularly his father, into the real spirit of Christmas. He makes it just in time.

The music is very audience friendly. Although it is totally new to me it somehow sounds familiar. The performances by the cast are all very persuasive. Will Ferrell is a hard act to follow but Michael Skoles is just right in the part, funny when he needs to be, moving when he needs to be, and he demonstrates an effective singing voice when he has the opportunity. Helen Cash is a sweet foil for him and also shows off a very strong, persuasive singing voice. She also has the best song to perform with Never Fall in Love With an Elf.

The musical has an entertaining libretto and the whole cast, including numerous youngsters, work hard to bring out all the amusing lines and moments. The principals develop their individual characters well, particularly Andrew Fearon who has to change from an exceedingly bad tempered businessman into everybody’s favourite daddy! Alisar Taylor also does an amusing turn as his PA, Deb, and David Patrick manages to make his unsympathetic part as Mr Hobbs’ Manager suitably likeable by the closing curtain.

On the production side, Val Shield (Director) and Jenn Tweddle (Assistant Director/Choreographer) manage a large cast of over 40, with a wide age range, very well in an impressively polished and sparkling production which the audience clearly enjoyed. Malcolm Moffatt’s orchestra is impressive, just 12 players but it sounded like more.They managed to accompany the singers without drowning their voices (that may, in part at least, have been thanks to Tyne Audio) and kept the show moving along at a fair clip.

All in all, a most enjoyable return to live, amateur theatre with an interesting show which I imagine may appear again during the festive season in future years. Well done everybody and thank you!

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