I know what you are all thinking, it’s November. Why are we talking about Elves? I also know that there will be some Scrooges out there who would not entertain the idea of going to see a show as packed with Christmas cheer as Elf the Musical. Well, if that is the case, you’ve really missed out because the combined talents of Poole & Parkstone Productions creative team, their performers and their musicians have created a truly wonderful show that both kids and adults can enjoy.
For those of you who are not familiar with Elf, the story focuses on Buddy, a human who was brought up as an elf in the North Pole, who heads out to New York City to find his dad. The role was originally made famous by a very energetic and over the top Will Ferrell, who’s shoes are very difficult to fill. Jamie Thomson has not only filled those boots, but will have to purchase some much larger ones, as he portrayed the role of the lovable Buddy perfectly. He was a joy to watch and threw so much energy into his character that it was exhausting watching him. He was paired perfectly with Katherine Steele who played Jovie, the antithesis of Buddy. She delivered some brilliantly dry and witty lines with great comic timing.
It was hard to imagine Buddys’ father being anything less than an equal delight, but then entered Ian Metcalfe as Walter Hobbs, the grouchy workaholic father who puts his job before his family. He was likeably unlikeable, showing Ian’s clear skill onstage. Of course, behind Walter’s greatness is his wife, Emily Hobbs, the frustrated and neglected wife who just wants her family together at Christmas. She was played by Clare Albanozzo. There were some beautiful moments between Emily and her son, Michael, played by Austin Redwood. Clare & Austin had lovely chemistry onstage and some of their scenes were just perfect to watch. Austin has very mature and powerful vocals and, whilst absolutely gorgeous to listen to, the mics could use a tad more balancing so that he can hit those lovely high notes without overpowering the music. This is by no means a criticism of Michael because he was outstanding.
Catherine Attridge really stood out as Walter’s flustered and long-suffering PA, Deb. She was very entertaining to watch and was extremely likeable throughout. Chadwick & Matthews, played by Abby Robbins & Dean Rawson, were a great comedy duo, and who could forget Santa himself, played by Nick Clarke.
A mention also has to go out to the ensemble as everyone was excellent and there were some lovely ensemble moments, it’s clear that there is a lot of talent in the Company. The choreography was excellent and I’m sure Claire Camble-Hutchins is extremely proud of how hard the team have clearly worked.
For an opening night, everything seemed to be very slick. There were some minor mic issues, but otherwise everything flowed brilliantly, from tech through to scene changes, the show was a very well-oiled machine.
This was an excellent evening and I wish Poole & Parkstone the best with the rest of their run.
[Editorial: Elf the Musical runs until Saturday 27 November 2021 – further details from Lighthouse Poole]