Friday, November 22, 2019

A Naughty Elf Premieres at The Public: Elf The Musical Is a Holiday Spectacle for the Whole Family

Posted By on Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 9:45 AM

click to enlarge SIGGI RAGNAR
  • Siggi Ragnar
The Broadway adaptation of the modern holiday classic Elf made a scintillating regional premiere at the Public Theatre of San Antonio on Thursday.

The musical retained the uniquely awkward appeal of the 2003 Will Ferrell film, telling the story of Buddy, an orphan raised by Santa’s elves who realizes he’s human and travels to New York City to meet his workaholic father, who wants nothing to do with him. It’s a story designed to convert the most skeptical Scrooge, appealing to the weary urbanite in all of us who just wants to mumble when someone implores us to sing.

click to enlarge SIGGI RAGNAR
  • Siggi Ragnar
While the film resides in a distant celluloid world where the Rankin-Bass stop-motion characters of Christmas yore haven’t aged a day, the stage version must confront the potentially troubling reality of a grown man exhibiting wildly childish behavior. This script is therefore more concerned with the state of various characters’ sanity, riddled with lewd jokes and contemporary references that serve to extend the audience's comfort zone.

That being said, the Public’s rendition makes some welcome revisions to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere. The production doesn’t exactly pull its punches so much as sagely sweep them slightly behind the curtain. In a show that dances a lively jig between irony and sincerity, it’s quite an achievement that nary an eyebrow is out of place.

On the other hand, songwriters Sklar and Beguelin’s conservative decision to set the saucy “Nobody Cares About Santa” at a Chinese restaurant rather than at a bar is somewhat overruled by the Public's choice to litter the eatery with brown bottles. But that's a mere quibble. It’s a joy watching gritty Brooklyn Santas bounce on their red bags while singing a jazz rebuke of the jaded youth these days. Considering they’re all in plus-size padding — which they reveal with a steamy flourish — it’s one of many impressive feats by the ensemble cast.

click to enlarge SIGGI RAGNAR
  • Siggi Ragnar

In a way, that attitude pervades the production: the ensemble seems organically invigorated by Buddy’s enthusiasm, and even the orchestra's conductor gets in on the fun.

In short, if you can’t come around to this show you’re a Cotton-Headed-Ninny-Muggins.

$10-$45, check website for Thursday showtimes, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through December 22, Public Theater of San Antonio, 800 W. Ashby Pl., (210) 733-7258,

Get our top picks for the best events in San Antonio every Thursday morning. Sign up for our Events Newsletter.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, San Antonio Current has been keeping San Antonio informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources. A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to San Antonio Current. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Read the Digital Print Issue

March 25, 2020


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 San Antonio Current

Website powered by Foundation