|Photo by Bruce Bennett|
|Elf sets the Will Farrell movie to music|
You know that feeling on Christmas when you open a rather dull-looking present and what's inside is even duller? You half-expect a sweater not in your style or a book by an author you vowed never to read again, and, yes, there they are, some bulky cable-knit processed in China and some fatuous tome by Tom Brokow. You smile and say thank you, like we were taught many years ago in our youth; it's the thought that counts, remember? But inside you secretly curse Santa, that the giver didn't give one iota of consideration about whom the gift was for. It's a present, for sure, but an empty gesture.
That's Elf in a paragraph. Knocked off and punched up from the Will Farrell movie, this 2010 limited edition opened on Broadway and played during the holiday seasons for two years. Now it's ready to hit the road, sort of. Theatre Under the Stars presents the musical for its December offering. There could be worse presents.
The execution:More »
That there is no genuine Christmas musical should be cause for alarm. A few seasons back, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, a natural, was a turkey since the adapters didn't trust the original film, and, sweet Vistavision, who could possibly replicate Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney? (Vera Ellen, well, that's another story.) Except for the snow finale, which was unexpected and total theater magic, the show failed in every way. From the golden days, theater groupies might recall Meredith Willson's Here's Love (1963), an adaptation of the beloved holiday classic film The Miracle on 34th Street. Although the show ran ten months, the composer/lyricist who gave us perhaps the grandest of all American musicals, The Music Man, turned out a charmless flop.