The show, based on the 2003 film comedy starring Will Ferrell, is predictably goofy, yet charming, and manages to lift the spirits without being overly cloying.
The storyline, which follows that of the movie, is simple.
Buddy, an orphan, crawls into Santa’s sack when he is a wee babe and is subsequently raised as an elf at the North Pole. He never quite fits in, though, being taller than the other elves, and eventually, he learns of his true heritage.
This motivates him to set out for New York City to find his real dad, Walter Hobbs, a workaholic children’s book publisher, who neglects his wife and son and clearly has forgotten the meaning of Christmas.
Buddy, of course, is all too enthusiastic about bringing back the holiday spirit to his dad and other members of his family, not to mention the rest of the jaded New Yorkers he encounters.
One of the cynics he meets and falls for is Jovie, a quirky young woman who doesn’t believe in Christmas or love.
Meanwhile, Walter is having problems of his own at work. He must come up with a best seller by Christmas or be fired. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out how it all ends.
The idea is to sit back and enjoy this upbeat and frothy show with its hummable tunes, good old fashioned Broadway dance numbers and killer cast.
Matt Owen, in the starring role, is a winner – a triple-threat performer whose joy is irresistible and infectious.
He sings and dances his way into your heart as the ultimate Christmas groupie.
Owen brings a sweet, endearing naiveté to Buddy without making him appear dumb – something Will Ferrell failed to do.
Because of this, he never comes across as annoying.
His sunny and winning presence is a delight and the show really belongs to him.
As Jovie, Buddy’s love interest, Kendra Kassebaum also shines. Her big number, “Never Fall in Love,” an ode to bad boyfriends, is delivered with a hearty dose of sass and bite.
Others of note include Sean Griffin as a crusty Santa, Allen Fitzpatrick as grouchy Walter Hobbs, Kim Huber as his exasperated wife, Jessica Skerritt as Walter’s giddy secretary and Cynthia Jones as a store manager with attitude.
Add an energetic ensemble that does credit to Denis Jones’ peppy choreography and Matthew Smucker’s artful sets, and then put it all under the helm of director Eric Ankrim (making his 5th Avenue directorial debut), and you have one jolly, musical holiday treat for all ages.
“Elf – The Musical” runs through December 31 at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle.
For ticket information, call (206) 625-1900 or visit www.5thavenue.org.