Buddy, Buddy, Buddy. The very definition of wide eyed innocent exuberance. I’m sure most of you know the story of Elf; a human baby crawls into Santa’s pack and is raised by Santy and the elves at Christmastown, North Pole. Finding out he is human, Buddy travels to New York City to find his father And this is where the story unfolds. I’ve never seen the movie the musical is based on so I had no expectations other then Neptune Theatre would deliver another great show.
First off, the set. The set design was just genius. And it can’t be easy, bring a Broadway show to Halifax. But damned if they didn’t nail it and then some. Designed by the set designer to resemble a children’s pop-up book, they are able to show several locations and the mood of each, raising and lowering sets as needed. Then there was the music, performed live during the show which really adds to the complete experience.
But all that, while necessary, just adds to the show. The performance is the show and everyone here just shined. Walter Hobbs is played by Marty Burt, last seen in Bingo! and he’s just as good here, playing the weary, don’t have time for Christmas executive. Jenny Hall is great as the Macy’s manager and I really got a kick out of Shelley Simester as Deb, Walter’s long suffering assistant. And the only complaint about Blair Irwin’s Jovie is that we didn’t see more of her. (Alrhough I understand why.) But the show is about Buddy, isn’t it?
Mark Uhre makes his Neptune debut here(which is also to date the only place to catch Buddy besides Broadway). And he is absolutely brilliant in the role. I can’t see how anyone could do any better, including Will Ferrell in the movie. He is child-like (in the best sense of the term), good hearted and full of wonder. Both adult and child, he is the embodiment of Christmas cheer. And Mr. Uhre captures that perfectly, without ever veering over into caricature. He is able to convey so much with his eyes and facial expressions. Not that Buddy doesn’t run around a little crazy now and then. He was raised by elves, after all.
The choreography, the music, the singing, everything fit and worked really well. I’ve never really been a musical guy but I enjoyed myself and had a hell of a time. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments and others that will tug the ol’ heart strings. It’s a great show for the family and indeed, there were quite a few kids at the Friday night show. It runs about two hours and fifteen minutes, with a twenty minute intermission so judge for yourself if your children can sit for that long. If so they are sure to enjoy it.
In short, great show, great performances and a great time. The movie will pale in comparison to the live musical. Go see it if you can.
What’s the brou-ha-ha about the fa-la-la?