Norman’s Sooner Theatre, 101 E. Main Street, continues to be my favorite live theatre spot in Oklahoma, churning out the best movie-to-stage adaptations that Broadway has to offer. And even though I was never that big a fan of the film Elf starring Will Ferrell, I have to say that Christmas came early this year, blessing me with the pure snowbound delight of musical laughs and laughing music with Elf the Musical, starring Oklahoma City actor Michael Todd.
Maybe I was already in the Christmas spirit, prancing down the holiday road of decorative lights that festively lit up the downtown area, leading right to the Sooner; with a lobby that was made up as a winter wonderland, they offered cotton candy, pink lemonade and other naughty delicacies. As children sang holiday carols while their adults spent hard-earned money on souvenir trinkets, I could actually feel the ice that encased my ruined heart start to melt into a pile of dirty slush.
With a run on Broadway starting in 2010, from the first song “Happy All the Time”—a sprawling North Pole tune that featured a stage full of short-legged elves high-kicking about—it was obvious that this musical was going full-reindeer, telling the story of Buddy, a human orphan that, one Christmas Eve, crawls into Santa’s bag and is raised among the yuletide elven-folk as one of their own.
Eventually though, Buddy learns the truth and heads to New York City, where he seeks out his real father. As Buddy, Todd is an absolute stand-out, hitting the right comedy notes that, like a shot-glass full of maple syrup, can rot out your teeth with his cloying sweetness; I forgot my glasses and even though most of his face was somewhat blurred, Todd’s Ferrell impersonation was dead-on.
Theatrical kudos should also go to Danielle Flesher Webb, bringing whatever beautfiul humanity she could to Buddy’s hardened girlfriend Jovie; and while I didn’t care for the OU-related rewrites from Old Saint Nick himself, the audience got a real kick out them, right through the frigid end zone. Running until December 15th, take this Elf off the shelf and see it with the whole darn family, if you got one.
With no family of our own in sight, after the show, my girlfriend and I wandered down to a reputable bar and downed a couple of Hot Toddies, the bourbon, honey and lemon mixture designed take the winter’s nip out of our own frozen bosoms; the cheery luminescence of a large Santa loomed in the darkened distance, asking me to believe in Christmas once again.
I almost did.