Polk County is privileged to have the opportunity to see a local adaptation of one of the most delightful Christmas productions to hit Broadway in several years. The musical “Elf” was a huge hit on Broadway in 2010 and a shorter version has been made available to schools and young performing youth groups across the nation. The shorter version, known as “Elf, Jr.” contains every bit of the energy, humor, music, and Christmas spirit of the original, in a slightly more compact version designed for the talent levels of children and young people.
Junior Ouachita Little Theatre (JOLT) has been working for months to learn the music, choreography, and staging to bring the local community a fun, musical experience that will be long remembered. Students also work the lights, sound, and help with the props and set construction. “This is a very ambitious project,” said OLT member Julie Ulmer. “The cast, crew, and direction staff have risen to the occasion to bring Polk County a fantastic holiday experience.”
Under the direction of Brad Storey and Music Director Amanda Baker, the large cast has been “putting in the hours both behind stage and onstage.” Ages of participants range from 3 years old all the way up to “70-ish,” said Ulmer. There are a few adult actors involved that bring an added strength and quality of performance. In fact, entire families are part of the production (including parents who volunteer to wrangle children backstage while waiting for their cues.)
“The supporting cast, consisting of all children and teens, is excellent, and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Costumes are colorful and well-designed thanks to Lee Grant and Kristie Kenyon,” Ulmer explained. The stage crew includes two foreign exchange students (from Germany and Japan) and there are experienced actors as well as those new to the OLT stage.
Timothy Lisle is making his theater debut as Buddy the Elf, the central character of the musical. If you have seen the 2003 movie release with Will Farrell playing the lead (which serves as the inspiration for the musical), you are familiar with the lighthearted story of an orphan human who is raised by elves at the North Pole. When Buddy discovers that he is not truly a Christmas elf, he goes to New York City (at the advice of Santa) to meet his human family. Hilarious adventures and lively musical numbers follow that will entertain the whole family.
This production is a “must see” for anyone who likes music, theater, or Christmas stories; it has become a modern-day classic. Production dates are December 8-10 and 15-17. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays are at 2:30 p.m. To ensure the best seats for this popular show, take advantage of advance ticket sales at the OLT office weekdays from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Prices will be $10 per adult, $8 for students and seniors. There are opportunities to get a price break for multiple performances – inquire at the box office in the OLT office for advance sales. Tickets will also be available at the door prior to each performance.