I once spent many hours one weekend, corresponding with an “elf”, via email. His name was Blodwit and he was helping me organise Santa letters for the youngsters in my family.
Obviously, Blodwit was a mischievous Santa letter employee working from home, but I happily played along with him as the child in me wanted to believe he was real.
Fast forward to Tuesday evening and I couldn’t wait to get to the Hull New Theatre to watch some of Blodwit’s relatives (maybe) in Elf The Musical. And judging by the many theatregoers wearing elf hats, I wasn’t the only one eager to get into the festive spirit.
As the lights dimmed in the packed theatre the colourful stage setting, bedecked with 20ft-tall candy canes, left us in no doubt we were in Santa’s domain at the North Pole.
As the “elves” danced around I started to laugh and never stopped throughout the whole amazing production – a production in which I honestly couldn’t find fault.
Based on the movie Elf, starring Will Farrell, the story tells of a baby boy, Buddy, who crawls into Santa’s sack one New York Christmas Eve, and is transported to the North Pole to be brought up as an elf.
Buddy (a very amusing Tam Ryan) soon towers over his fellow elves and Santa has to break the news to him that he is – shock, horror – a human.
Santa (Barry Hester) gives Buddy his blessing to travel to the Big Apple to find his father, Walter Hobbs (Barry Bloxham).
Trouble is, Walter is on Santa’s naughty list and Walter’s son, Buddy’s 12-year-old half-brother, Michael (Owen Greenwood – surely a star of the future) doesn’t even believe in Santa. OMG!
It’s up to the naive Buddy to get his father off the naughty list and make Michael believe.
Where do I begin in describing Buddy’s hilarious journey to not only find his real dad, but also to find love?
Well, the fantastic stage setting was a star in its own right. The backdrop of a massive LED screen showing amazing animations, plus dare-devil roller-skaters and a gravity-defying acrobat, to name just a few goings on, left me wishing I had three pairs of eyes, so I wouldn’t miss anything.
And, of course, the ever-present Buddy was the icing on the festive cake.
It’s a musical, so singing and music were much in evidence and every singing voice was loud, clear and tuneful.
Pantomime-y in parts, Elf The Musical is a laugh a minute. However, the laughter wasn’t just confined to us in the audience – several times those present on the stage couldn’t control their giggles. The main laughter-making culprit was Jordan Conway who played Hobbs’ employee, Matthews, among other roles. From the moment he “funny-walked” on to the stage, he had us in stitches. And I’m sure he overdid his shenanigans as Asparagus Boy on purpose. It’s here I thought I was going to be ill through laughing too much.
Of course, it just had to have a happy ending. And as the “snow” fell and Santa flew through the air on his sleigh laden with Christmas presents, none were happier than us theatregoers.
Running until Saturday, November 6th, 2021, 7.30pm nightly with 2.30pm matinees on Thursday, November 4th and Saturday, November 6th, 2021. Tickets from £20. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 2nd November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★