A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW: Elf – The Musical
The Alhambra Theatre & Dining opened its annual Christmas holiday show with the return of “Elf – The Musical” on November 29, which remains on stage through December 24, 2019. Last year’s production of this holiday classic filled with Christmas cheer was sold out in August, and played to full houses throughout the run.
Managing Partner, Craig Smith, decided to reschedule the play this year so theatergoers who were disappointed that they couldn’t get tickets last year could see it. The current production also sold out in August, and Craig says it’s their “fastest-selling show ever.” So while it’s probably too late to get tickets for this performance, if you do want to go, you can try calling the box office during office hours to see if any seats have become available due to cancellations.
The story is that of Buddy, a human raised as an elf, who travels from his home at the North Pole to Manhattan in search of his father. The Alhambra’s production has twenty actors who bring Buddy’s story to life as the stage is filled with song, dance, and comedy. Almost all of the cast members and production staff were involved in last year’s production, and delivered polished high-energy performances.
The cast included Dustin Maxwell as Buddy the Elf; Jessie Booth as Buddy’s girlfriend Jovie; Mark Poppleton as Buddy’s father Walter; Jennifer Medure as Buddy’s stepmother Emily; Trey Murphy as Buddy’s brother Michael; Lisa Valdini as Walter’s secretary Deb; Jereme Raickett as a Macy’s manager, and Shaun Rice in the dual roles of Santa and Mr. Greenway.
Shain Stroff was both the stage manager and choreographer. He has been the theatre’s stage manager for several years, and has extensive experience as a choreographer. And while last year’s Elf choreograhy (by another choreograher) was great, Stroff’s current version seems even more lively. We would guess that viewing last year’s production multiple times inspired new ideas for the dance numbers. Shain is also a fine actor, whom we have had the opportunity to see on stage. Bryce Cofield was the assistant director; Jessie Booth was the Dance Captain.
Chef DeJuan Roy’s menu was also a treat, offering four entrées, which included a holiday feast complete with turkey, ham, and sweet potatoes. The menu includes choices for vegetarians and kids.
The Alhambra Theatre & Dining has a full year of great entertainment ahead, beginning with a New Year’s Eve celebration that includes a fantastic menu, entertainment, and danceable music.
Nine shows are scheduled 2020; beginning with “Love Letters (January 9 – February 9), starring lovebirds Tod and his wife Lisa Valdini, followed by “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” in February. Listings for the full season and their Alhambra After Dark series are available on their website and Facebook pages. The season ends with the musical version of “A Wonderful Life.” Early reservations are recommended.
The theatre is located at 12000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit alhambrajax.com or call 904-641-1212 for additional information.