Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Buddy the Elf Sparks the Season with Christmas Cheer
Cardboard Playhouse Theatre Company
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Stephanie's reviews of The Nutcracker, Cinderella: The E! True Hollywood Story and Nutcracker on the Rocks and Rob's reviews of Rob's review of Wind in the Willows and A Christmas Carol

Image Courtesy of Cardboard Playhouse Theatre Company
Buddy the Elf (actually a human) has a problem in Central Park. Santa's sleigh has bogged down because of the lack of Christmas spirit. Santa's sleigh is powered by holiday spirit, so it can't get off the ground. It's Christmas Eve, and Buddy needs to inspire all of New York City in order to get Santa back up in the air and off to delivering packages.

This all takes place on stage at the South Broadway Cultural Center where co-directors Kristin K. Berg and Doug Montoya have gathered and rehearsed three dozen child actors and more than a dozen crew members into telling the story of Elf the Musical, or actually, a junior version of it.

The 2003 movie, starring Will Ferrell and directed by Jon Favreau, has become a holiday staple. It tells the story of Buddy, a human infant, who crawls into Santa's sack while Santa is delivering presents at an orphanage. Santa inadvertently brings Buddy to the North Pole. Thinking he's an orphan, the elves raise Buddy as one of their own—though a big version. Santa discovers that Buddy's natural father is alive and working at a children's book publishing company in Manhattan, and off goes Buddy, determined to meet his father.

The story was turned into a musical with a score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. The book is adapted by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan. It ran on Broadway during the Christmas seasons of 2010-11 and 2012-13. The "Jr." version ratchets it down to a 60-minute show. Even in this abbreviated version, the charm of the story comes through clearly.

Cardboard Playhouse Theatre Company (CPTC) was created by Berg and Montoya in December 2004 to "foster self-expression, self-confidence, and creativity through the use of an improv-based theatrical programs." CPTC asks children to think for themselves and "take a sense of ownership in the show." To date, Cardboard Playhouse has produced more than 50 shows, casting over a thousand local adult and child actors.

Using a stage full of bright-eyed kids, the CPTC presents a jolly version of the Elf story. There are some particularly strong performances from the teenaged lead actors, including Jaaziah Terrazas as Buddy and Jayce Ross as Jovie. Ross is also in fine singing form. Other standouts include Tanner Tomingas as Walter Hobbs and Beck Wilson-Scott as Michael Hobbs.

Elf the Musical Jr. will run through December 13, 2015, playing on Friday night at 7:00 pm and on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased or by calling 848-1320.

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