Dominion Theatre, London – until 7 January 2023
If you’re looking for some festive magic this year, look no further than the Dominion Theatre for a gloriously Christmassy, sparkly production of Elf The Musical. Based on the cult classic film, it tells the story of Buddy the Elf who finds out he’s really a human, so makes the journey from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father and experience the world. This musical adaptation has all the most iconic parts of the film plus a heap of theatrical magic that makes it the perfect festive treat.
This version of the show does a superb job of being laugh out loud funny and completely joyous without overstepping into pantomime territory; it’s entertaining for all the family but not in a way that has you cringing at the jokes. Of course it’s saccharine and over the top but isn’t that what Christmas is all about?!
At the heart of the story and its success is Simon Lipkin as Buddy, who takes on the role with complete joy and authenticity. Having previously given a starring performance in Nativity The Musical, Lipkin clearly has the Christmas magic which makes him such a dream to watch. From shredding paper to create snow to joyfully rollerskating, Buddy is an exuberant and endearing character who you can’t help but love.
Alongside the humour, Lipkin also plays Buddy with a lovely vulnerability which comes across at various points, especially during his encounters with Jovie (played brilliantly by Georgina Castle) when he is completely overwhelmed by her “miraculous” self. His naivety comes across in an authentic and touching way, that doesn’t stray into slapstick and gives a real depth to the plot.
The rest of the cast are incredibly strong throughout. Rebecca Lock is a treat as Buddy’s step-mum whose heart is slowly opened to Christmas; her duet in Act Two with Buddy’s brother (Logan Clark) is absolutely outstanding. Tom Chambers is good as the businessman, absent father whilst Kim Ismay has some really witty moments as his secretary and the pair are great together.
Another standout performance comes from Dermot Canavan who is hilariously entertaining as the Macy’s Manager. The ensemble give a really punchy performance, especially when performing Liam Steel’s choreography. There’s great variety in the show from jaded Santa’s giving an impassioned, Newsies-esque display to a full company tap number which is marvellous.
Philip WM. McKinley’s direction brings abundant joy to the stage as well as a healthy dose of magic. Tim Goodchild’s set is suitably whimsical and there are some certified wow moments through a recreation of the Rockefeller Centre ice rink and some real life snow.
As a whole Elf The Musical is a perfectly packaged Christmas show, which has commercial elements to appeal to the masses as well as some theatrical gems for regular theatre goers. It’s a wonderfully enjoyable show that’s well worth a visit. Take a trip to the Dominion Theatre, have your elf a very Merry Christmas and feel the festive spirit from your head to your mistletoes!
photo credit: Mark Senior