Dominion Theatre (studio)
27 November 2022 (released)
27 November 2022
For me, it isn’t Christmas until Elf has been viewed multiple times. Sitting down with a cup of cocoa and watching one of Will Ferrells’ best performances is always a highlight of the season. A rendition of my favorite Christmas film in the West End was therefore an absolute must for the first normal festive period in years.
It was clear that I was not the only elf fanatic in the house. As the cast rattled off classic lines from the movie, you could almost hear the audience simultaneously muttering them along, before roaring with laughter like it was the first time they had ever heard it. From the famous burp scene, to Buddy’s tongue swelling confession, Director McKInley stays loyal to many of the screenplays highlights.
Although these recycled gags were clearly well received by the audience, it’s the times it deviated from the film that this production shined brightest. Scenes not seen before include a downtown Chinese restaurant inhabited by down and out mall Santa clauses, and a stood up Jovie waiting for Buddy on the New York skyline. Leads Simon Lipkin (Buddy) and Georgina Castle (Jovie) clearly had more comedic direction here, as the gags fitted more naturally to their delivery.
The musical numbers are catchy and could put a smile on even the grinchiest theater goers face.
‘A Christmas song” was the highlight of the night, and was accompanied with wonderful choreographic surprises both times it was performed, including life sized alphabet blocks and fake snow. Another personal favorite was “never fall in love (with an elf)”, as Georgina crooned off her dating mishaps, including a two timer and a tight stealer, I bizarrely found myself reflecting on my own tragic love life.
If fake snow and elf costumes isn’t enough to get you in the festive spirit, then the wonderful set by Tim Goodchild is the tinsel on top of the christmas tree. Dynamic rolling physical set pieces are paired with a unique digital backdrop, which propels you from day to night and New York to the North Pole, with ease. This combination of traditional set design and CGI landscapes felt innovative and captivating, and I was truly impressed with the vast number of scenes the audience is catapulted through.
All in all, if you’re looking for festive cheer (which is likely the case if you are considering seeing elf the musical) then look no further. All the bells and whistles of a big budget west end run, dipped in the welcome nostalgia of a Christmas movie classic, this show is certain to leave you feeling all jingley inside.