Treat yourself to a little Christmas fun with “Elf,” the Broadway musical touring cast on stage Dec. 20-24 at the Fabulous Fox. Even if you are not a fan of the Will Farrell movie (I know I’m not), this lighter, funnier, more whimsical version will charm the green-striped socks right off you, thanks in large part of Cody Garcia who plays the lead role of Buddy the Elf.
There was something a bit creepy with Will Farrell’s Buddy in the movie, but Cody Garcia’s Buddy is over-sized child with a top of red hair, all gangly legs and arms, which makes the character’s wide-eyed innocence much more fun – and funny. From the moment Garcia’s Buddy bursts on stage – after a humorous intro by Santa (a funny Mark Fishback) in an armchair, at home at the North Pole – Buddy’s enthusiasm and tendency to break into song and dance charms the audience.
There was a full house at the holiday-bedecked Fabulous Fox on Tuesday, Dec. 20, as “Elf” took the stage. An audience that came for holiday fun got more than their tickets’ worth with this wonderful production. Cody Garcia’s Buddy was on stage nearly the whole time, racing about with frenetic energy, but the whole cast were delightful, beginning to end, as was the colorful sets and costumes.
The show started out with a production number featuring Santa’s other elves, festively costumed kneeling actors with “shoes” attached to their knees, who sang and danced impressively and with enormous fun in the opening production number “Happy All The Time.” When the six-foot-five Buddy learns he is not really an elf, he sets out for New York to find his real father, singing “World’s Greatest Dad” in his optimism.
Buddy does make it to New York and even finds his dad, a successful businessman, Walter Hobbs (Christopher Robert Smith) in the company that publishes kids books but there things go downhill for ol’ Buddy. His dad, with wife Emily (Caitlin Lester-Sams) and eight-year-old son Michael (Jaxon James), just can’t believe Buddy’s story. Tossed out, Buddy winds up working as an elf – what else – in a department store Santa display, where he falls for fellow Christmas elf Jovie (Tieisha Thomas)
Garcia does a lot as Buddy, bounding about the stage with rubber-legged comic style and generating 100 watt charisma non-stop. But he also gets good support from the rest of the cast and the production. The story benefits from a bit of diversity casting, including love interest Jovie, played with a dry sarcastic humor and later much charm by Tieisha Thomas.
Sets are big and cute and costumes are colorful, providing the perfect framing for the action. The production is full of silly songs. like “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” which Garcia sells with his high-octane, bouncy performance (and a pretty good voice) and a few with more than a dash of winking satire, keeping the comic tone and fun factor high.
Ebullient Cody Garcia frolics through the whole musical, boosting the spirits of the audience as much as Buddy the Elf does the characters in the musical. Even the scene with Buddy on Christmas Eve, taking shelter in a Chinese restaurant with the New York department store Santas, with the best satiric number in the musical, “Nobody Cares About Santa,” has a little extra sparkle in its satire.
Everything wraps up in a big finale featuring the whole cast, with the perfect holiday ending. If this production of “Elf” doesn’t get you in the Christmas mood, nothing will.
“Elf” is on stage at the Fabulous Fox through Dec. 24.
© Cate Marquis
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars