Elf is a musical based on the motion picture of the same name, with a score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. The book is adapted by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan from the 2003 film. The musical ran on Broadway in the Christmas seasons of 2010-11 and 2012–13, and also toured the U.S. in 2012. A new tour launched in 2014.
William "Buddy" Hobbs, a young orphan child, mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Years later, Buddy finds out that he's an ordinary human being and heads off to New York City in search of his father, Walter Hobbs.
He finds him, but Walter doesn't believe in the spirit of Christmas, nor do many other New Yorkers. This is a problem, because Santa's sleigh is powered by the people's belief in Christmas.
Faced with the harsh reality that Walter is on the naughty list and his half-brother, Michael, doesn't even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his birth family and help New York City remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Differences from the film
The story is narrated by Santa Claus rather than Papa Elf. The story in the musical is said to have begun three years ago - rather than thirty years ago, like in the movie - so that there's no age limit on the actor playing Buddy. Buddy and Jovie's child is changed from a girl to a boy. The musical also adds a subplot about Michael's disbelief in Santa.
The musical numbers in the original Broadway production were as follows:
Subsequent productions including the Broadway revival and West End production replaced "Christmastown" with "Happy All the Time" and "I'll Believe in You (Reprise)" with "World's Greatest Dad (Reprise)".
The original principal casts of all major productions.
After a 2009 workshop, the musical officially opened for a limited holiday engagement at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway on November 14, 2010, following previews from November 2, 2010. Casey Nicholaw directed. The final performance took place January 2, 2011 after a run of 15 preview and 57 regular performances. A Broadway cast recording was released on November 1, 2011. Leading the original cast was Wicked and Jersey Boys star Sebastian Arcelus, who was joined by Broadway albums Amy Spanger and Beth Leavel.
North American tours (2012, 2013, 2014, 2016)
Presented by NETworks, a mini-tour of the musical played select cities across North America for the 2012 holiday season. Stops include Providence, RI (Nov. 4-10), Appleton, WI (Nov. 13-18), Tampa, FL (Nov. 20-25), Fort Myers, FL (Nov. 27-Dec. 2) and St. Paul, MN (Dec. 5-30). Two separate tours, running simultaneously, began in 2013, and again 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2017 there will again be two separate tours, running from November to the end of December.
Broadway revival (2012–13)
Following the success of the 2010 production, the musical returned to the Al Hirschfeld for a second holiday season beginning November 9, 2012, on a run through January 6, 2013. This new production featured a revised book and a brand new opening number "Happy All the Time."
West End production (2015–16)
A new production of the musical opened at the Dominion Theatre on October 24, 2015, for a 10-week run until January 2, 2016. This production features Ben Forster as Buddy and Kimberley Walsh as Jovie. This production was received with mixed reviews. As of December 2015, it was announced that Elf the Musical had officially become the fastest selling show since the Dominion Theatre opened in 1929.
A separate production ran at The 5th Avenue Theatre for a limited engagement in Seattle beginning November 30, 2012, on a run through December 31.
The Canadian premiere of the production ran from November 20, 2012 to January 6, 2013 at Neptune Theatre (Halifax), Nova Scotia.
A production of the musical also ran at the Paper Mill Playhouse from Nov 26, 2014 until Jan 4, 2015.
On December 16, 2014, NBC broadcast a stop-motion animated adaptation of the musical entitled Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas. It featured the voices of Jim Parsons as Buddy, Mark Hamill as Walter, Ed Asner reprising his film role as Santa, Garfunkel and Oates' Kate Micucci as Jovie, Rachael MacFarlane as Emily, Max Charles as Michael, Gilbert Gottfried as Mr. Greenway, and Jay Leno as the leader of the fake Santas. The screenplay was written by Andrew Horvath, Michael Jelenic with Martin and Meehan. It also contained Guardino, Sklar, and Beguelin's songs from this musical. This special also featured a new song titled "Freezy the Snowman".
Mark Kennedy called the production "a tight, polished, expensive-looking affair that has enough jokes for adults and enough special effects for kids."
The musical broke records at the Hirschfeld box office three times, grossing over a million dollars in one week, and being the third best-grossing show in the 2010 Thanksgiving weekend, behind Wicked and The Lion King.
Awards and honors
Official Tour Website 2014-15
Elf the Musical at the Internet Broadway Database
Elf: The Musical at the Music Theatre International website