It's A Candy Cane Of A Musical

By Martin F. Kohn

I suspect that in real life Matt Kopec can sit still, although his hyperkinetic performance in the touring musical "Elf the Musical" provides little evidence to support that hypothesis. As the title character, Buddy the Elf (who is really a human raised by Santa's helpers), Kopec sings and dances, mugs shamelessly, gestures broadly and scampers about the stage like a 5-month-old Labradoodle.

These aren't bad things in a big venue like the Detroit Opera House where the kids in the last row of the balcony, like any other paying customers, deserve to go home happy.

Happy is the operative word here. Based on the perky 2003 movie that starred Will Ferrell, "Elf the Musical" has enjoyed a couple of holiday season runs on Broadway and has now taken to the road. Its songs, by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, are generally upbeat if not terribly memorable, and its book, by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, no strangers to merriment - having performed similar chores on "Annie" and "The Producers" (Meehan) and "The Drowsy Chaperone" (Martin) - has enough dashes of grown-up humor to keep parents interested.

The production, directed by Sam Scalamoni, is colorful and lively and full of comfort and joy. We care about Buddy, and (spoiler alert, sort of) everything turns out all right in the end. If you're looking for something different to take the kids to this Christmas season, "Elf" could be just the ticket.

Familiarity with the movie is not a prerequisite. And if the movie's Papa Elf character (played by Bob Newhart) is a favorite, someone may be disappointed: The character doesn't appear in the musical.

So here's the story: Buddy, the tallest elf at the North Pole, turns out not be an elf at all. A human orphan, he crawled into Santa's sack one Christmas Eve. All grown up now, Buddy finally realizes there's something wrong. Santa (Gordon Gray), who knows all, informs Buddy that the father who never knew of his existence (Buddy's mother died) is alive and living in New York. Buddy sets off to find him.

Dad Walter (Matthew Alan Smith) turns out to be a grumpy executive, rendered cheerless by pressures at work. Not only is he put off by a childlike man wearing a green elf suit and claiming to be his son, he has no time for the family he already knows: wife Emily (U-M alumna Jane Bruce) and 12-year-old son (young Tyler Altomari). Incidentally, Walter looks so much like NBC newsman Chuck Todd that you're waiting for him to reveal the White House soup of the day.

After sundry adventures and misadventures in New York, including a love interest (Kate Hennies), Buddy manages to teach Dad the true meaning of...oh, heck, you don't need to know all this. Just go and enjoy.

REVIEW:

'Elf The Musical'

Broadway in Detroit at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit. Tuesday-Sunday through Dec. 15. 2 hours, 20 minutes. $24-72. 1-800-982-2787. http://www.broadwayindetroit.com

MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+