Elf The Musical
Reviewed on Thursday 5th November 2015
Having premiered on Broadway in 2010, Elf The Musical has found its way to London with an all-new production directed and choreographed by Morgan Young. Based on the 2003 movie, the musical follows a thirty-year-old elf named Buddy who - after discovering he is actually human - leaves Santa and the North Pole behind to travel to New York in search of his family.
Despite feeling slightly drawn out, the story is suitably heart-warming (and cheesy) for the Christmas period. I enjoyed Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin's score which contains some big-Broadway style numbers and, under the musical direction of Stuart Morley, the orchestra sound terrific.
In recent months Elf The Musical has been hitting the headlines for selling the most expensive tickets in West End history, yet the set is often minimalistic and looks tacky. The animated projections used throughout the opening scenes are lazy; there is no magic or excitement until Santa's sleigh takes flight at the end of the show whilst snow falls over the audience.
The Dominion is a huge theatre and, with only a small ensemble, the stage often looks empty and is lacking in atmosphere. Young's choreography is underwhelming; the tap number is a step in the right direction and the finale is strong, but too many songs fall flat and lack charm (thankfully Jennie Dale is on hand to bring bucket loads of pizzazz each time she steps foot onstage as Deb).
Ben Forster carries the show as Buddy. Following in the footsteps of Will Ferrell, Forster is endearing throughout. He rarely leaves the stage and his energy level never drops. Belting out song after song seems like a walk in the park for Forster who aces the big money notes.
The stand out performances came from Jessica Martin as Emily Hobbs and the young actor who played Michael Hobbs. Their two duets 'I'll Believe In You' and 'There Is A Santa Claus' provided the highlights of my evening - we need more West End roles for Jessica Martin!
Kimberley Walsh marches around the stage with confidence as Jovie. Although Walsh is stronger in the second half, her rendition of 'Never Fall In Love (With An Elf)' could be taken up a gear – she pulls off some of the comedic lyrics but doesn’t own the stage.
Elf The Musical is a good show which is let down by certain elements of this production. It's far from unbearable, there are some perfectly enjoyable scenes and we are in safe hands with Forster at the forefront.
Elf The Musical runs at the Dominion Theatre until 2nd January 2016.
Please visit www.elfthemusical.co.uk for further information and tickets.
Photo Credit: Alastair Muir