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An Innocent Abroad this Christmas: Elf The Musical

21 December 2016

Elf, The Musical JR

by Matthew Skylar and Chad Begeulin

Dramacube Productions, Hampton Hill Theatre, 15th to 17th December

Review by Viola Selby

A musical brimming with festive cheer, innocence and a huge pool of talent, this is a story of innocence abroad, depicted brilliantly through the innocence of the actors themselves: a simple tale well told through cleverly choreographed dance scenes, melodic musical numbers, scintillating scenery changes and fantastic facial expressions.  Dramacube’s Elf The Musical is definitely the seasonal show that you will kick yourself if you missed.

elf-dramacube

Amelie Shepherd as Santa Claus – Photograph by Bomi Cooper

From the very beginning, the audience were captivated by the high energy musical numbers, such as ‘Happy All The Time’ where we first meet Buddy, brilliantly portrayed by Ben Francis, and Santa Claus, played by the outstanding Amelie Shepherd.   I must say, Amelie handled her huge beard very well, still ensuring that her voice was projected clearly for all to hear.   Dance moves were excellently choreographed and met with a sleigh-full of enthusiasm, enthusiasm that remained constant throughout the show.  I was definitely tapping my feet along with the rest of the audience to such songs as ‘Sparklejollytwinklejingley’ and ‘The Story of Buddy’ which beautifully highlighted the talents of the cast.  I was also shedding a tear to the charming melodies of ‘I’ll Believe in You’, an angelic duet sung by Asher Paulo and Maya Dervis, who played Michael and Emily Hobbs, and feeling jazzy with the superb alto timbre of the voice of Izzy Shepherd as Jovie, during her solo,‘Never Fall in Love (With An Elf)’.   Every single cast member truly shone with singing abilities beyond their years; especially when you take into account the need to cue to recorded music!

As well as being fine singers and dancers, the children showed that they were also all truly in command of the stage! Michael Wells made a superb and very funny Walter Hobbs, using many facial expressions to bring out the world weariness of the character, whilst Amber Westgate was terrifying as the lady in charge, Ms Greenway.  In fact all adult characters were acted in a very mature and professional manner, with the actors perfectly portraying personalities, concerns and desires of individuals much older than themselves.  Even those who played younger characters such as children in the shops interpreted their characters with such depth and realism, showing a wide range of emotions excellently exposed through facial expressions, body language and tone.  The whole performance was phenomenally acted by all, with every character being represented in such depth and compassion.

Finally this musical was filled with many ‘wow’ moments that keep each audience member mesmerised, from Santa using an iPad, to the use of the house lights to enhance falling snow. The whole play progressed smoothly with simple yet beautiful sets used effectively to ensure that scene changes were done quickly and carefully.  Background pieces, such as the New York backdrop, created stunning sets but that also allowed the imagination to create the detail.  I especially enjoyed Santa’s broken down sleigh, smoking away. Set designer, Alan Bower really got the most out of a fairly minimal set.  However, the icing on top of the already splendid Christmas cake had to be the white swagged drapes used to depict snowy mountains in the North Pole and that later fell away to reveal festive New York City lights.

Altogether an absolute festive treat for all the family!   Director Stephen Leslie’s cast and crew have outdone themselves creating a Christmas masterpiece. With a vast array of musical talent, award-deserving acting and sets that will leave you spell-bound, this show was an absolute cracker!

Viola Selby

December 2016

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From → musicals, Reviews

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