Short & Sweet guest critic Karen Whalen reviews Elf the Musical, hosted by Diana Martinez

By Broadway in Chicago and Diana Martinez; Produced by Tribeca Flashpoint Academy
Posted12/12/2013 12:14 PM

Short & Sweet critic for the day, Karen Whalen, joined host Diana Martinez at the opening night of Elf the Musical. Whalen, a mom of three, appreciated that the show offers certain jokes that only the adults can catch, while kids can enjoy the characters, plot and music. Whalen found the catchy songs to be "integral to the show." She also enjoyed the references to modern technology that made it "relevant to the year 2013." Though Whalen had not seen the movie prior to seeing the show, she made it a point to see the movie after attending the show. Now able to compare the two versions, Whalen found the show to be true to the movie and thinks fans of the movie will enjoy the musical.

Diana Martinez describes her own experience below.


Elf the Musical is a funny fresh, treat for the holidays

I've not seen the movie Elf, so I had no idea what to expect going into Elf the Musical at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. But honestly, I think that's the best way to enjoy a show: with a fresh set of eyes and not comparing it to anything else. My guest critic was Karen Whalen of Grayslake, IL. She too had no idea what she was in store for, but her friend Michael, who had seen the movie, assured me during intermission that the live show is even better than the movie!

Tom Meehan (The Producers) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) penned the show, and these two real masters of comedy are great at writing one-liners. You can especially see Martin's improvisational roots in the Santa scenes that open the show, Chicago references littered throughout.

This fun story tells the tale of an infant, who after being orphaned by his mother, crawls into Santa's bag on Christmas Eve, and makes his way to the North Pole, where he is then raised by elves. The catch is he grew up thinking he was an elf. The story is narrated from the point of view of a very him and relevant Santa Claus, who weaves the tale of how this big Elf named Buddy found his way back to NYC in hopes of meeting his real father. He is surprised to find a very uptight businessman, who has a new family and no real happiness.

We both really enjoyed seeing a new holiday story, which was both different and fun. For instance, the first production number features a gaggle of elves dancing amazingly well while on their knees in a vibrant adorable Santa's workshop set. We knew from that moment that this was a satire and that the performers were fully committed to it. The colorful sets and costumes were very visually appealing and the pace and plot of the show progressed very well. It is a unique show, and though you might think it is aimed at children because of the title, logo and look of the show, but I think the satiric humor caters best to teens and adults.

Karen and I were split on our opinion regarding, "who is the show is appropriate for." As a parent she was a bit concerned about the use of the word "stupid" and one instance of the "B" word. However, I pointed out those words are permissible on primetime TV these days. But let's face it; I was raised on the "The Peanuts" throwing around words like "stupid", "blockhead," and "dumb." So it doesn't really offend me and I turned out okay. Right? The music of the show is fantastic and catchy. It has a wonderful Broadway, Big-Band-Swing sound. (I have been singing the finale "The Story of Buddy the Elf" in my head all day long). What I truly enjoyed the most though, were the scenes revolving around the relationship that develops between the happy and naive Buddy "the Elf", and the sarcastic and pretty LA transplant, Jovie (Lindsay Nicole-Chambers), who works as an elf at a Macy's department store in New York City. It was those scenes that hooked me. Her very real, sarcastic reactions to his naive, happy "Elfiness" made the whole satiric element work for me. She has a fantastic style and a captivating voice that shines in her act II song "Never Fall In Love." The show finished off with two great production numbers that left the opening night audience in the perfect place to swing into the holidays.

The show runs about two hours and fifteen minutes, with an intermission. It offers a lot of styles of comedy that make this show work for all ages. I'd probably recommend taking kids who are eight years or older as it is might be a bit too long for a littler one to sit through. But don't wait too long! This fantastic cast is only at the Cadillac Palace for a short time and takes off on its sleigh December 15th.

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