Friday 25 November 2022 02:29 AM Who needs Will Ferrell? This show is a real cracker: VERONICA LEE reviews Elf ... trends now
Elf The Musical (Dominion Theatre, London)
Verdict: Slick festive fun
The Wizard Of Oz (Curve, Leicester)
Verdict: Fantastic fever dream
The 2003 film Elf is an established seasonal favourite and, inevitably, audiences will have Will Ferrell lodged in their heads when they think of Santa's hapless 'little' helper Buddy.
Thankfully, Simon Lipkin in Elf The Musical overcomes any comparisons (and a dreadful wig) to make a convincing lead.
The story, should you need reminding, is about the naive Buddy, who at the age of 30 discovers he's not an elf at all, but a large human who, as a baby, crawled into Santa's sack and was then brought up by his elves at the North Pole.
Buddy goes to New York to find his father, frazzled businessman Walter Hobbs (Tom Chambers), who is too busy for his wife, Emily (Rebecca Lock), and son Michael, let alone for this weird manboy who wants to hug him all the time.
The 2003 film Elf is an established seasonal favourite and, inevitably, audiences will have Will Ferrell lodged in their heads when they think of Santa's hapless 'little' helper Buddy
To make matters worse, Hobbs is on the Naughty List because — oh, the horror — he doesn't believe Santa exists.
Philip McKinley's classy revival — the scenes in Macy's look particularly gorgeous in Tim Goodchild's design — has some rousing song-and-dance numbers (the book is by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, with songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, choreography by Liam Steel).
If you can't get to the West End Christmas Carols, check out Mark Gatiss as Jacob Marley in his own stage adaptation of Dickens's festive yarn, which stars Nicholas Farrell as Scrooge.
In cinemas on Sunday and Thursday (christmascarolcinema.com)
Lock and Logan Clark as Michael (the night I saw the show) perform one of the evening's showstoppers in There Is A Santa Claus, while Kim Ismay as Hobbs's assistant Deb and Dermot Canavan as the store manager provide great comedy.
There are a couple of lulls and some of the gags are for adults only — have fun on the way home explaining to your wee ones how Buddy's 'special hug, twice!' for Jovie (Georgina Castle) resulted in a little Buddy — but the message that we all need to believe in the true meaning of Christmas shines through.
Under the artistic director Nikolai Foster, the Curve Theatre in Leicester has become a musical theatre powerhouse, and his sumptuous new production of The Wizard Of Oz cements that status.
The show incorporates music from the 1939 MGM film, with additional songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice from Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams' 2011 version, and it's a visual as well as a musical feast, with its clever set design by Colin Richmond and lavish costumes by Rachael Canning.
As we leave the drab tones of Kansas, everything on stage suddenly moves into startling colour and neon sets, and impressive back projections fill in parts of the narrative. Georgina Onuorah makes a powerful lead as a nicely brattish Dorothy — 'Nobody listens to me!' — while Jonny Fines (Scarecrow), Paul French (Tin Man) and Giovanni Spano (Lion) are her amiable companions as she tries to find her way home in her fever dream. A delightful puppet Toto