Elf the musical is one of the most anticipated shows of 2015. After a huge backlash earlier this year when tickets went on sale at up to £240 each, people decided enough is enough and boycotted the show for being too expensive. With a limited run over the festive season, I went along to see if it is filled with all the Christmas cheer you would want from a festive musical.
Buddy is different to the other Elves. That’s because he is human. When he finds out his real father is actually one of the biggest non-believers, he travels to meet his dad in the hope of filling him with the spirit of Christmas. But can Buddy makes his dad believe in Santa and will there be enough Christmas spirit to make Santa’s sleigh fly on Christmas Eve?
I don’t want to be the grinch that stole Christmas here but the story is weak and the music is forgettable. The end of act 1 is disappointing and fizzles to a close rather than going out with a bang. There were a couple of decent songs in act 2 but I couldn’t hum you one if you asked me to. Coming off the back of the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, I had high hopes for this show and went in with one objective ‘to leave the theatre feeling christmassy’. Sadly, I didn’t.
The set design is nice but doesn’t WOW the audience. There is one moment of clever trickery that will make the kids beam with joy at the end but apart from that, there is nothing to really warrant to extortionate tickets prices (which are apparently down to the production costs). There are a lot of ‘dad jokes’ which leave you rolling your eyes but equally there are some genuinely funny moments as well which bring a chuckle to your belly.
Ben Forster is the saving grace in this show. His happy, bouncy portrayal of Buddy the Elf is adorable and his voice incredible. Kimberley Walsh is good as Jovie but doesn’t have a huge amount to do in the show. She’s gets to sing a couple of songs but neither really allow her to let rip and show what she can do. Joe McGann plays Buddy’s father well but his singing isn’t on a par with the rest of the cast. Jessica Martin and as Buddy’s step mother was brilliant, singing up a storm and bringing life to the show.
Elf is fun and will entertain people this Christmas. But with ticket prices up to £240 each and programmes at £10, I’m sure you can find a pantomime that is just as good for a fraction of the price.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Alastair Muir
Elf is playing at the Dominion Theatre until 2 January 2016. Click here to book tickets