The Column Online



National Tour
Music by Matthew Sklar, Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin
Based on the New Line Cinema film written by David Berrenbaum

Dallas Summer Musicals

Director – Sam Scalamoni
Music Director—Shane Parus
Choreography – Connor Gallagher
Scenic Designer—Christine Peters
Lighting Designer—Paul Miller
Sound Designer—Shannon Slaton
Costume Design—Gregg Barnes

CAST (in reviewed performance)

Santa—Mark Fishback
Mrs. Claus—Caitlin Ort
Buddy—Eric Williams
Charlie—Michael Dewar
Tequila—Lacey Kim Kriston
Walter– John Adkison
Sam—Bernie Baldassaro
Matthews—Michael Dewar
Chadwick—Michael Doliner
Emily Hobbs—Caitlin Lester-Sams
Michael Hobbs—Grady Miranda
Deb—Galyana Castillo
Security Guards—Danny Hammond, Oz Shoshan
Macy’s Sales Woman—Kelsey Jenison
Store Manager—Torrey Linder
Jovie—Paloma D’Auria
Fake Santa—Michael Doliner
Little Boy on Santa’s Lap—Liam Vincent Hutt
Policemen—Michael Dewar, Bernie Baldassaro
Mr. Greenway—Jake McCready
Charlotte Dennon—Lacey Kim Kriston

Ensemble: Bernie Baldassaro, Chaz Alexander Coffin, Holly Lauren Dayton, Michael Dewar, Michael Doliner, Danny Hammond, Liam Vincent Hutt, Kelsey Jenison, Lacey Kriston, Jennifer Oehlwein, Caitlin Ort, Jenna Rifkind, Oz Shohan

Reviewed Performance: 11/27/2018

Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

In keeping with the current trend of film to stage adaptations-especially Christmas stories (think A Christmas Story The Musical) Elf the Musical has become wildly popular with productions running each holiday season since its inception in 2010. Based on the 2003 Christmas comedy starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, and Bob Newhart, Elf the Musical brings the joy and magic of Christmas, Santa Claus, and the story of Buddy, the Elf-a human raised among the elves at The North Pole. Whether you are a fan of the movie- or you love getting into the holiday spirit, Elf the Musical brings catchy songs, humorous situations, and the story of naïve Buddy, who restores the belief that Santa Claus is real, while seeking to find his real father, as well as his acceptance in the human world. Of course, the story cannot be complete with romance-along the way he develops feelings for the human Jovie, a seasonal Christmas elf employee at Macy’s. Christmas, innocent romance, and familial acceptance- the perfect formula behind any Broadway musical. Elf the Musical is set at The North Pole, and in New York City. William "Buddy" Hobbs, a young orphan child, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Years later, Buddy finds out that he is an ordinary human being and is sent off to New York City in search of his father, Walter Hobbs. He finds him, but Walter doesn't believe in the spirit of Christmas, nor do many other New Yorkers. This is a problem, because Santa's sleigh is powered by the people's belief in Christmas. Faced with the harsh reality that Walter is on the naughty list and his half-brother, Michael, doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his birth family and help New York City remember the true meaning of Christmas. The energy and enthusiasm of the cast in collaboration with the amazing visual elements make this production the perfect recipe for holiday fun- for the young and the young-at-heart. Director Sam Scalamoni brought together an ensemble cast which worked well together, and collaborated with a crew who clearly took their jobs seriously by knitting together scenery, as well as producing lighting and costumes that enhanced the story being told by these characters. His overall vision and concept was very impressive. From the moment the lights went down, I could really feel a sense of magic in the air, and from the moment Santa Claus appeared on stage in the beginning, I felt a warm and exciting feeling of the upcoming Christmas season.

Scenic Designer Christine Peters successfully transformed the grand proscenium stage into multiple locations. In a story with so many locations, each one was designed and conveyed with precision for detail. I was most impressed with Peter’s attention to detail in each location-from the magical and imaginative world of The North Pole, to the wonderfully familiar Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City-each one was larger than life, and was designed and executed like large pages in an illustrated children’s picture book. This was a nice surprise, considering the story of “Buddy, the Elf” was told by Santa Claus from a children’s book. It’s moments like this that really allow all design aspects of a production to work collaboratively-thus creating an true allusion and exit from reality for audiences. The sets were very colorful, and during the entire production, I felt that I had been transported to each of these locations. It was most extraordinary to see an ice-skating rink conveyed around the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This will be as close to New York City at Christmastime as I will be able to get this holiday season. It is apparent to me that a lot of time, care, and attention to detail was incorporated from the scenic, lighting and costume designers of this production. I cannot even begin to express how awe-inspiring it was to see the ensemble ice-skate around the tree at Rockefeller Center. It really added to the ambiance of the entire production to see the ensemble glide around the Christmas tree.

There were quite a bit of scenic changes to accommodate the multiple locations required within the story. I thought that these transitions were executed marvelously. The transitions were seamless. There was never a moment when I felt that I had been “cheated” by the lack of details or amount of detail in each location. From the interior and exterior locations of the Empire State Building and Macy’s Department store, to the enchanting and mysterious workshop at the North Pole, each set was splashed with color, and bedazzled with glitter. It was truly eye-catching, and added to the overall spectacle of the production. The North Pole was as grand on stage as depicted in Christmas films. I was also very pleasantly surprised to see Santa’s sleigh fly-not only did it complete the illusion of the production for me, but, it was a very authentic, and pulled me completely into the world of the production. Another gem of the set design was seeing a moving style depiction of Macy’s employees as elves leave the store for the evening. It was a nice way to transition to the next scene. Again, another moment which left me in complete amazement.

Lighting was designed by Paul Miller. Miller executed a fantastic job plotting lighting that was appropriate for each scene and mood. One element that particularly impressed me was the lighting in the skyscraper windows, and the street lamps in New York City. It really was a nice touch of practical lighting that provided a wonderful touch of visual imagery separating the extraordinary world of St. Nick and the elves and the reality of the streets of NYC. Mr. Miller clearly collaborated well with his fellow designers, and was able to convey another facet of magic through lighting. Often times, I feel that lighting can sometimes be very straightforward, however, Mr. Miller was able to create a very playful and jolly mood-perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit.

Gregg Barnes designed costumes that were not only appropriate to the fantasy world but also had an incredible attention to detail. Each ensemble player wore a unique costume (for each role) adding to their importance and presence in the story. All this added authenticity to their roles. Costumes were visually appealing, while also giving audiences a glimpse of the majesty and amusement of the residents of Christmas Town. They were very colorful, and added an overall sense of fantasy and whimsy to the production. It was a pleasure to see each member of the ensemble with a unique twist on each costume. Not only were the costumes appealing with bright colors, patterns and (of course) sequins, but they also had a very nice textural appeal as well. Mr. Barnes certainly delivers with an extraordinary depiction of what we hope Santa Claus and his entourage of elves would look like.

There were some apparent audio and microphone issues that intermittently plagued the production throughout, and some issues with drapery that prevented smooth transitions toward the end of the production. However, both issues were very minor, and I am confident that they will be non-existent by the next performance.

Eric Williams was incredibly believable in the role of Buddy. Through facial expressions, and body language, Williams convincingly portrayed the optimistic elf, seeking to find his father, and to be accepted by him. Williams provided some wonderfully honest chemistry with actors in the ensemble, and with his father, Walter (played superbly by John Adkison).His role was very loveable, and his enthusiasm and comic timing on stage was nearly constant. Williams never faltered in his delivery, and all interactions with other cast members were believable and spot on. I enjoyed seeing the child-like expressions and honesty in Williams’ performance. It was a nice contrast to the seriousness of his father, Walter-no longer a believer in the spirit of Christmas. Williams’ character was very gentle, and, at times, reminded me of the innocence of children at Christmas.

A standout musical number of Mr. Williams was “Sparklejollytwinklejingley.” It was a high-energy number with fantastic choreography. It dazzled audiences with the vocal performance, and staging. The choreography of Connor Gallagher was very impressive. It brought a little “old-fashioned” Broadway (a la Bob Fosse) to a very modern fairy tale. It was most remarkable, and fascinating to watch.

My favorite number by far was “The Story of Buddy the Elf.” I absolutely love musical numbers that re-tell the story of the entire show (at this time, I am thinking of “Betrayed” from The Producers). It is presented in the style of a children’s book-moving from chapter to chapter recounting the story from the Buddy’s birth, to his time at the North Pole, and finding his human father, Walter in New York City.

Santa Claus was played by Mark Fishback. Fishback was very convincing through facial expressions and body language, and of course, the familiar “jolly” persona. There have been many depictions of Santa Claus on the big screen-from Tim Allen to Sir Richard Attenborough, however, Mr. Fishback was a very honest, and loveable addition to the company of Claus portrayals. Mr. Fishback humorously started the show with audience interaction (by reminding audience members to turn off their cell phones, and unwrap noisy candies)-in character, of course. While he also created lively and witty banter with the audience about local collegiate football team, the SMU Mustangs.

Another standout was Grady Miranda in the role of Buddy’s younger half-brother, Michael. Miranda was convincingly cute, and provided the appropriate touch of humor with Buddy on stage. Additionally, he really commanded the stage with his powerful voice. Miranda left a lasting impression on each scene that he was in, and certainly will impress you with his maturity and enthusiasm on stage. It was enjoyable to see Miranda become a boy once more as his belief for Santa Claus and the miracle of Christmas begins to reveal itself. What a fantastic message this time of the year.

Chock full of humor, puns, and references to current popular culture, Elf the Musical (PETA, Fortnite, and Social Media) will definitely leave you chuckling at the commentary made on our society.

This production of Elf the Musical is definitely worth seeing. If are on the fence about seeing Elf the Musical, or if you were not a fan of the movie, trust me, you will definitely want to see it. The humor, magic and holiday spirit that surrounds the story will leave you with an evening of light entertainment as you prepare for the upcoming Holiday season. You only have a short time to see Elf the Musical at the Music Hall at Fair Park, then, like Santa’s Christmas Eve ride, you will have to wait until the next year!

Dallas Summer Musicals at Music Hall at Fair Park

909 1ST AVE.
DALLAS, TX 75210

Plays through December 2.

Wed. Nov. 28--7:30 pm
Thurs. Nov. 29--7:30 pm
Fri. Nov. 30—7:30 pm
Sat. Dec. 1—10:00 am
Sat. Dec. 1—3:00 pm ASL Performance
Sat. Dec. 1—8:00 pm
Sun. Dec. 2—1:30 pm

Ticket prices range from $20.00-$135.00, depending on day and seating.

For information and to purchase tickets, go to, or by phone at 1.800.514.ETIX (3849).

Groups of 10 or more receive a 15% discount, priority seating, and many more benefits. Please call 214.426.GROUP (4768) or email