December 19, 2014
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Fun-filled 'Elf' will get you in the holiday spirit
Don Fowler

The National tour of “Elf” is onstage at the Providence Performing Arts Center through Saturday, November 10, and it is guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.

The fun-filled Broadway musical is 10 times better than the movie and an improvement on the original Broadway production. For starters, Matt Kopec is the perfect Buddy, the orphaned human who grows up in Santa Land thinking he is an elf, even though he is six feet tall. Kopec rises head and shoulders above Will Farrell, who played the character in the movie.

“Elf” is one of those family shows that people of all ages will enjoy. As you enter PPAC, you are greeted by Santa himself, as snow falls from the marquee. The bright costumes and sets are first class, and the acting, singing and dancing are of Broadway quality. As the curtain rises, Santa introduces us to the story of Buddy, who discovers that he isn’t an elf and walks all the way from the North Pole to find his real father.

Dad is a big time corporate executive who doesn’t care about Christmas, overworking his staff and ignoring his family. When Buddy appears in his elf outfit, everyone thinks he is crazy. He lands a job at Macy’s, where he uncovers a “fake Santa,” kills a book deal, disrupts the family, meets the girl of his dreams, and eventually saves the day.

The messages of belonging, believing, and raising your expectations are all there, as Buddy and his family discover that there are more important things in life than making money.

The cast is strong and the voices are great. I had a chance to meet Kopec, whose off-stage enthusiasm for the show shines through in his performance.

“Elf” opens its national tour in Providence, and they were ready for opening night (or afternoon), where I attended the show.

Director Sam Scalamoni is no stranger to Rhode Island, where he previously directed the National tour of “The Gazillion Bubble Show” and “Beauty and the Beast.” He told me that he loves the Rhode Island audiences because they “get it.”

“They are savvy and get all the jokes,” he told me. And there is plenty of humor in the songs and dialogue, good clean fun that had both children and adults laughing throughout.

“Elf” opened on Broadway two years ago. Scalamoni was given a free hand in putting his own “take” on the show.

“We pay tribute to the movie,” he said, “but this is not the movie.”

That’s for sure. I didn’t like the movie, but I loved this new, fresh approach to the story.”

Tickets are still available for the remaining performances. Call 421-ARTS for reservations.


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