Based on the hit comedy film “Elf” starring Will Ferrell, “Elf the Musical” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 and 14 at the IU Auditorium.
The musical follows the story of Buddy, an orphaned infant who accidentally crawls into Santa’s sleigh one Christmas Eve and is transported back to the North Pole, where he is adopted by Santa’s elves. Buddy grows up thinking himself to be an elf until his enormous size and less than extraordinary toy-making abilities make him realize he is human.
Resolving to find his biological father and his identity, Buddy makes his way to New York City and winds up helping its cynical inhabitants discover the true meaning of Christmas.
The show originated as a holiday engagement at the Al Hirschfield Theatre on Broadway in 2011 and has been running as a national production during the holiday season for four seasons.
Eric Williams, who is now in his second year playing Buddy, said he is especially excited to perform at IU, where his brother is an alumnus.
Williams, who has promoted “Elf the Musical” on The Today Show and Wendy Williams, credited Will Ferrell’s performance for the enduring status of Buddy as a character.
“While Buddy is this huge character of a person, Will Ferrell is so honest in it,” Williams said. “While a lot of my quirks are different, I try to bring that same authenticity but with an Eric Williams twist.”
John Adkison, who plays Buddy’s biological father Walter, said that his interpretation of the character differs slightly from that of James Caan, the actor who portrayed Walter on screen.
“In the film, he’s played with a little more meanness and a little greedier than he is in the musical,” Adkison said. “He’s a little more over-worked and stressed in the musical.”
The musical numbers are worked into the major dramatic points in the film. For instance, “World Greatest Dad,” which Williams sings, follows Buddy’s journey from the North Pole to New York.
Adkison said the songs have a 1920s and 1930s, big band feel and they highlight dramatic moments.
“It doesn’t seem to me like we just stuck songs in there to make this a musical,” Atkinson said. “It comes from an organic place.”
He added that you don’t have to be familiar with the movie to follow and enjoy the musical.
Adkison said all the beloved moments of the film are in the musical, although the audience will enjoy some slight tweaks.
“The movie’s incredible,” Williams said. “I think ‘Elf the Musical’ is just as good as the film.”
Doug Booher, executive director of the IU Auditorium, said “Elf the Musical” promises to entertain the whole family.
“It combines the sensational story from the cherished film with the shiny songs, costumes, and sets we come to expect from a Broadway show,” Booher said in a press release. “The show also brings with it a beautiful message of what can happen with a little faith in ourselves and each other. Whether you’re 9 or 99, ELF will have you believing in the magic of Christmas.”