Presented by Adelaide Youth Theatre
Reviewed 23 December 2017
Adelaide Youth Theatre produced an, ahem, cracker of a Christmas show this season with their child and family-friendly version of Elf Jr, The Musical. Based on the movie featuring Will Ferrell, written by David Berenbaum, this production was brought to the Arts Theatre stage through special arrangements with the Music Theatre International, New York.
Many will know the story of Buddy, the elf who grows up to realise he’s really human. What gives it away? His humungous size in comparison to all his fellow elves and his disastrous toy-making abilities (only 85 etch-a-sketches in one morning? Oh, for shame!) Upon discovering the truth (that Buddy was an orphan who crawled into Santa’s sack one Christmas Eve, and was then raised by the elves as one of their own) Buddy sets off for New York in search of his birth father. What a shock to discover that in the real world, people don’t smile all the time, they can be unfriendly and even his own father is on the naughty list. Buddy certainly has his work cut-out for him to bring the true spirit of Christmas back to New York and discover who he really is and where he belongs.
The massive cast that carried this production featured children of all ages from young primary school aged kids, to adolescents. They were, quite simply, amazing entertainers. Singing, dancing, acting—these kids did it all, and brought huge grins to the faces of all audience members, adult and child alike. In the headline role was Connor Olsson-Jones who epitomised the high-voltage energy and enthusiasm that Will Ferrell displayed in the movie. No stranger to the theatre, this young man was absolutely amazing as Buddy. Fellow headliners were Sophie Hill as Charlie, Miley Vincent as Michael Hobbs, Montana Vincent as Jovie, all doing wonderfully well in their roles. Huge congrats to all these young stars.
The stage production was full of song (at least ten different numbers) and dance, and spectacular Christmas costumes and staging. The onstage Christmas trees, overhead fairy lights, and backdrops featuring New York in winter created wonderful atmosphere. This was just what Adelaide needed in the days before Christmas and it’s highly recommended for families, old and young, should the company repeat it in future years. At just over one hour running time, it was a great length—not too long for the real littlies, and long enough for older kids who like a bit more depth to their entertainment. My almost-five-year-old date did squirm a bit in the second half, but she still clapped loud, grinned and professed her love for Buddy.
Reviewed by Samantha Bond
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