Elf the Musical overview – Buddy’s back with some syrupy showtunes | Theatre

Son of a nutcracker, what did they do to Elf? Back for a 2nd stint in the West End, this musical variation of the effervescent Will Ferrell movie is an normally flat night out. Inspite of some appealing performances and a restricted sweet-cane-twirling ensemble, it will come shut to the blandly corporate Xmas knowledge it sets out to satirise and doesn’t muster a great deal more joy than the type of office retail outlet grotto in its tale.

You know the plot: Buddy has been lifted as an elf immediately after crawling into Santa’s sack as a newborn and winding up at the North Pole. He heads to New York to observe down his father Walter, a tricky-boiled publisher of children’s guides, and delivers disaster and cheer with him, when also getting love.

The tale is narrated not by Papa Elf (Bob Newhart’s character in the motion picture) but by Santa himself, from a Dr Seuss-like perch. The eccentric spirit of that established design by Tim Goodchild is not matched by composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin’s songs, mostly vanilla diversions and syrupy ballads, whose humour hardly ever matches the initial screenplay. A brassy range sung by disgruntled Father Christmas impersonators and a snazzy finale choreographed by Liam Steel are noteworthy exceptions.

Tom Chambers and the cast of Elf the Musical.
Far far too twinkly … Tom Chambers and the cast of Elf the Musical. Photograph: Mark Senior

If the storytelling hardly ever feels fleet-footed, there are some amusing times, mainly taken straight from the film. As Buddy, who enjoys heat hugs more than Frozen’s Olaf, Simon Lipkin is funniest when desperately seeking to get Walter’s notice. Lipkin’s Buddy bonds well with his newfound brother (performed at this overall performance by Logan Clark) and with Walter’s spouse, Emily (Rebecca Lock). But it under no circumstances actually seems like he is liberating their life and the clearly show feels harmless and reluctant to go off-kilter.

You want Philip Wm McKinley’s generation designed additional of Georgina Castle’s voice though she has a fantastic solo as the jaded Jovie who falls for Buddy. In the motion picture, James Caan played the publisher father with a grimace and a loss of life stare. When Walter comes, a Eugene O’Neill gag declares “the Iceman cometh” but the much-much too-twinkly Strictly winner Tom Chambers – who tap dances well right here – never ever dips underneath lukewarm in the job. There is a melee of pop society gags in Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan’s e book, with hyperlocal New York jokes together with specially British references – as strange as discovering Ferrell’s Elf in the existing Asda advert.

With a hero devoted to bringing Christmas cheer by “singing loud for all to hear” this musical could have been a sweet festive take care of but is entirely much too stodgy.