Although much has been made of the prices of tickets for this family festive show, it is actually far more important to ask how much Christmas spirit do you end up with when the show is over?
Based on the hit 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, Elf tells the story of Buddy who thinks he is an elf but is in fact a human. When he discovers this he decides to go and find his real father who lives in New York, while spreading some Christmas cheer at the same time.
It is a sweet and charming story that you can’t help warming to – particularly Ben Forster’s charmingly naive and eager Buddy who really holds the production together throughout.
The trouble is, there doesn’t seem to be enough substance to hold the production together, with some of the characters just seeming to be underdeveloped such as Kimberly Walsh’s character Jovie – who adds a bit of feistiness and fabulous singing to the role (as seen in her number Never Fall in Love With an Elf) – but is ultimately underused.
It feels as though it hasn’t been finished properly and is lacking in thoughtfulness in the way the production has been created as a whole – such as the over reliance on graphics on the screen means that there isn’t any imagination involved.
Musically, although there aren’t any songs that particularly have you singing after the show finishes – it is the lyrics rather than the music that lets the numbers down. But the songs are lively enough particularly Sparklejollytwinklejingley that adds a bit of a spark to the production.
But it isn’t all bad news – particularly when it comes down to the performances. Forster as Buddy had some big shoes to fill by taking on a role made famous by Will Ferrell, but he was able to make his own mark on the character, with a charismatic performance that does bring a smile to your face whenever he is on stage.
Meanwhile there were strong performances from Joe McGann as Walter Hobbs, Jennie Dale as Deb – both performances adding a bit of depth to production.
There is a strong sense that director and choreographer Morgan Young has tried to cater for both adults and children -particularly in terms of the humour which can be confusing in places.
It is likeable in its own way and is best suited for those wanting to get into the Christmas spirit – but without being overwhelmed by silliness. The production is heartwarming and it does leave you feeling with a sense of childish excitement that Christmas is coming but the production could and should have been a lot bigger in quality.