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L.A. Beat

New West Theatre’s Elf: the Musical is heartfelt holiday fun

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 The Enmax Centre and New West Theatre’s  winter production of Elf: The Musical features some familiar faces doing something a little different for the long standing theatre troupe’s annual holiday show.


  The cast including New West mainstays Erica Hunt, Scott Carpenter, Katie Fellger, to name a few, join familiar faces from the local theatre community like Ash Thomson, Jillian Bracken, Chris Kyle Peterson,

Chris Kyle Peterson, Scott Carpenter and Erica Hunt playing elves in Elf; The Musical. Photo by Richard amery

 Jesse Thibert and Dave Mikuliak and veteran actors like Jeff Carlson,  to put on the holiday show of the season. It is not just about Christmas, it is about the longing for family and connection.


 Elf: The Musical is about Buddy, a baby who hitched a ride in Santa’s bag , went to the North Pole and was raised by Elves. When he grows up and realizes he is in fact a human and not an elf, hilarity ensues as his childlike enthusiasm and naïveté leads him into all kinds of adventures as he travels to New York to meet his real father and brings everybody a whole lot of much needed fun and Christmas spirit in the process as he discovers what it is like to live as a human.  


Elf: The Musical pretty much perfectly apes Elf the modern day Christmas classic movie, scene for scene. There is a more music than the movie of course and a few scenes and special effects from the movie are absent.


 New West welcomes back  Kevin Owen Clarke ( who performed in New West productions of  Million Dollar Quartet and Next to Normal) to play Buddy the  Elf and his crush Jovie, played by Alexa Elser who had performed in many New West productions before moving to Calgary.


Clarke‘s natural  exuberance and enthusiasm shines through and is a beautiful contrast to Alexa Elser’s world wearied, cynical New Yorker Jovie.

 Erica Hunt is alternately hilarious and touching as she plays mom Emily. 


 She sings a couple beautiful duets with her “son” Ben Vassell, but also gets to cut loose on a couple other soulful numbers.

 They also have a talented young cast including Ben Vassell who plays Buddy’s half brother Michael.


New West veteran Jeff Carlson shows his dark side as sour children’s book writer and Buddy’s father Walter, who finally grows to accept his son and relearns the meaning of Christmas as he gets to know I his son.

 Dave Mikuliak get to show his dark side too as Walter’s boss Greenway and as an angry department store Santa, who Buddy calls out for not being the real Santa.

 Scott Carpenter , who grew out and dyed his beard white for the role, does a hilarious job as  the “real” Santa and narrator of the show, even incorporating  the “turn off your cell phones” message before the show  into his opening speech.

 The show has a lot of heart, so much so that I had to leave to call my own dad as Walter was in the process of disowning Buddy to end the first half of the show.

 The second act starts strong as Buddy has lost his Christmas spirit, forgotten about his date with Jovie and  finds a bar of department store Santas who break into my favourite song of the show “ Nobody cares about Santa Claus.”

Chris Kyle Peterson, Erica Hunt, Kevin Owen Clarke, Jesse Thibert, Aiden Boon are part of Elf: The Musical. Photo by Richard Amery


 The soundtrack, performed by musical director Kathy Zaborsky, drummer Keenan Pezderic and bassist/ guitarist Scott Mezei is upbeat and cool with a lot of jazz inspired music for the cast to sing and demonstrate their best dance moves ( coordinated by Alexa Elser). Elser  does a credible tap dance soft shoe for her big dance number.


 Most of cast play multiple roles ranging from elves in Santa’s workshop  to Walter’s co- workers.


 They are all fantastic, but MacEwan University Theatre Arts graduate Aiden Boon stands out in numerous roles.

A talented group of young actors  join the cast for assorted street scenes, department store scenes and ice skating scenes

 Tickets are going quickly for the show, especially for the shows before Christmas, though the show has a timeless message of faith, family and  Christmas cheer.

 Elf: The Musical runs  every Tuesday through Saturday until  Dec. 31.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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