OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: 'Elf' shines bright on stage for holiday fun

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-11-28T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: 'Elf' shines bright on stage for holiday funBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

The 2003 holiday film comedy "Elf," starring "Saturday Night Live" alum Will Ferrell in the title role, also features an all-star cast of other favorite faces like Ed Asner as Santa Claus, Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, Peter Billingsley as Supervisor Elf, James Caan as grouchy father Walter and Mary Steenburgen as his wife Emily, along with Zooey Deschanel, Andy Richter and Amy Sedaris in supporting roles.

Broadway In Chicago in association with NETworks Presentations, LLC is hosting a Chicago engagement run of the new national Broadway tour of the new stage musical "Elf the Musical" playing now until Dec 15 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W Randolph St. in Chicago.

Starring the very funny Will Blum in the title role of Buddy the Elf, this holiday spirit production offers fun and games for all ages, serving as proof that the star-power used in its film inspiration from a decade earlier, isn't necessary to make this yuletide yarn a perfect gift for audiences.

Blum makes this silly, farcical favorite role of recent holiday film chestnuts his own, bringing an array of funny moments, ideal timing and masterful mugging for the delight of audiences.

"Elf" is the funny tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy's enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa's permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Larry Cahn is in fine form as Walter, Buddy's grumpy dad from decades earlier. (Santa even has to break the news to Buddy that his real dad's name appears on his "Naughty List.") Julia Louise Hosack as Walter's wife Emily and Noah Marlowe as son Michael nicely complete and compliment this family unit. Lanene Charters is great as silly secretary Deb and Lindsay Chambers hits a homerun as morose Jovie, especially enjoyable in her number "Never Fall in Love with an Elf."

The rest of this magical cast features Jen Bechter, Darren Biggart, Giovanni Bonaventura, Erick Buckley, Elizabeth Burton, Audrey Cardwell, Drew Franklin, George Franklin, Karen Hyland, Paul Ianniello, Eric Anthony Johnson, Chandon Jones, Drew King, Julie Kotarides, Andrew Kruep and Emily Larger.

Directed by Sam Scalamoni with an ideally brisk pace to clock-in at two and a half hours, including a 15-minute intermission, the musical also stars beautiful precision choreography by Connor Gallagher. Christine Peters adds a dazzling hand-painted old fashioned set design that impresses. Add to all of this actor Ken Clement as an adorably dry-wit Santa, and this total package is a holiday gift you won't want to return. 

Tickets are $18 to $90 at (800) 775-2000 BroadwayInChicago.com or ElfTheMusicalOnTour.com.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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