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‘Elf — The Musical’ brings holiday cheer to the Levoy Theatre
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Son of a nutcracker!

‘Elf — The Musical’ brings holiday cheer to the Levoy Theatre

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Most movie genres have a long list of films that are generally considered “classics.” From comedies to dramas to horror films, beloved classics continue to pile up, as more are released year after year to the delight of movie buffs everywhere.

But one category that has spawned only a handful of true classics is the holiday movie. Oh sure, plenty of filmmakers try, but most fail in their efforts. In fact, you can likely count the number of universally loved holiday movies off the top of your head — “A Christmas Story,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Home Alone” and “Scrooged” come to mind, and maybe “Die Hard” if you want to be a wiseass about the whole thing. But after that it’s mostly garbage efforts like “Ernest Saves Christmas,” along with an endless parade of dreadful Hallmark-style made-for-TV movies and not much else.

Except for “Elf,” that is.

In 2003, “Elf,” the movie that would go on to become arguably the most cherished holiday film of the 21st Century, was released. Starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, an elf who travels from the North Pole to New York City in search of his naughty-listed biological father, “Elf” was a smashing success, earning $222 million worldwide on a budget of just $33 million. And its popularity has only grown over time, spawning everything from video games to an animated TV special to a Broadway musical.

This year, the Levoy Theater — in conjunction with local theater group the Off Broad Street Players — will host its own stage version of “Elf — The Musical” for a run of dates throughout this month. And opening night kicks off 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12.

But what is it about this story that resonates so strongly with audiences?

“Elf is a classic because both the movie and the musical have so much heart and so many relatable characters,” says Domonic Barnes, director of the show. “Whether you see yourself as a Buddy or a Walter, you can see yourself in the story being told. So in that respect it’s truly universal. Let’s be real — who doesn’t love the idea of an elf running around spreading Christmas cheer? I mean come on, it’s fun for the entire family!”

Screen vs. Stage

Obviously, when adapting something from screen to stage, there are bound to be some differences. And for those who have the original film tattooed on their brain, any changes can be hard to accept. But in the case of “Elf,” things are likely to be just as you remember them.

“Honestly, there aren’t many differences between the movie and the musical,” Barnes assures us. “The big one that jumps out is that Santa is the narrator in the musical instead of Papa Elf. But the musical has all the iconic lines and moments we love from the movie, only now they are live on stage and enhanced by some pretty incredible theater magic.”

And though the lines and much of the staging might be the same, filling the pointy shoes of one of the greatest comedic actors of our time is a lot to ask anyone.

“Will Ferrell is an icon, indeed, and when I was given the challenge of bringing ‘Elf’ to life on the beautiful Levoy stage, the task became not only to bring people what they love and expect, but to also put our spin on the material,” the director says. “It was nerve racking at the beginning, but when Nick Flagg (who plays Buddy in this version) opened his mouth at callbacks, I knew we had the right person. Nick brings the playful and naive energy we all know and love about Buddy the Elf, but with a whole lot of heart and honesty. He is funny and a truly kind person that brings such light to our show.”

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear

Music plays a big role in the feature film, with Buddy and many of his co-stars using the medium as a way to inspire Christmas cheer, speed up the production of toy building and, sometimes, just for the fun of busting out a duet in a public restroom. And as you might imagine, the stage version of “Elf” takes the musical numbers to a whole other level.

“The Levoy/OBSP production of ‘Elf’ brings you the full theatrical experience, including a live orchestra composed of 16 musicians performing this incredible score at every performance. We are pulling out all the stops with some special holiday magic and a few surprises along the way,” Barnes promises.

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