Scrooges steer clear, Elf the Musical is the most festive thing to happen to the West End. An explosion of sparkle, songs and Santas, this family musical might be cheesy, but it's lots of fun too. Sure, it's silly and predictable, but if ever there's a time to indulge in guilty pleasures, it's Christmas.
Based on the hit 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, Elf the Musical follows Buddy (Ben Forster), a human raised in the North Pole who doesn't fit in with his Elf family — literally. Much mirth is made of the size difference on stage, as actors toddle on their knees and the goofy, guileless Buddy towers over them.
Upon learning that he is not, in fact, an Elf, Buddy travels to New York City to find his human father — and takes an insatiable appetite for sugar and cheer with him. Ben Forster's force and fun in the central role carries the whole show. Having long outgrown Will Ferrell's slapstick in the film version, we were ready to be a little irritated by this endlessly enthusiastic, overgrown Elf. But not only does Forster captivate the children with exaggerated silliness (dramatic belches, robot moves, random outbursts of song), he charms the grown-ups too.
Though it's the frenziedly festive Buddy that carries the show, Kimberley Walsh also shines as love interest Jovie. Her popstar sparkle and Strictly Come Dancing moves come into their own as she sings on skates, and reluctantly falls for not just Buddy but the magic of Christmas too.
Much like the movie, there is nothing insightful about the plot; the over-worked dad neglects his wife, young son and now Buddy in favour of making money. When the mother and child sit, sad and unable to complete a science project without a man's touch it felt a little stale and saccharin.
But the Christmas Spirit moral of the film is given extra oomph thanks to a snappy score courtesy of composition and writing team Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, the Tony Award nominees and the duo behind The Wedding Singer. Slick ensemble numbers like the jubilant Sparklejollytwinklejingley are the musical equivalent of mulled wine: there's no nutriotional value but you'll feel warm and fuzzy in spite of yourself. And by the mega-watt happy ending complete with tap-dancing and a real-life flying sleigh, it's not just the little ones that are grinning with Christmas cheer.
Elf the Musical: ticket price furore
After an outcry at ticket prices in triple figures, with family trips to see Elf on the West End costing as much as a week-long holiday in the sun, the producer of Elf have finally "bowed to overwhelming public and social media demand to introduce a more affordable ticket price".
|REVIEW: Elf the Musical, Dominion Theatre
|Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Court Rd, London, W1T 7AQ | MAP
|Tottenham Court Road (underground)
24 Oct 15 – 02 Jan 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|£36.75 - £250
|Click here to book via Ticketmaster