At the Majestic, it’s beginning to look a lot like “Elf”

by | Nov 4, 2022 | Arts and Entertainment | 0 comments

Under the eye of a watchful elf, Cherie Gullerud checks out part of the on-set decor for the Majestic Theatre’s production of “Elf.” Gullerud is drecting the musical, which is based on the 2003 film.

Nearly 20 years after its release, Will Ferrell’s movie “Elf” is on its way to becoming a holiday classic, regularly appearing on lists of the all-time best Christmas movies.

The musical version of “Elf,” which arrived on Broadway in 2010, isn’t quite as well-known yet, as Cherie Gullerud can attest.

In fact, Gullerud didn’t know about the musical version until her daughter, Lizzie Shumway, started singing some of its songs at the recommendation of Shumway’s voice teacher.

Gullerud’s first reaction, she said in an interview, was this: “There’s a musical version of ‘Elf?’”

There is. And now she’s directing the show, which opens Friday at the Majestic Theatre for a three-weekend run. (See the end of the story for details about show dates, curtain times and ticket information.)

Intrigued by the songs her daughter was singing, Gullerud sent away for the rest of the music from the show. She liked those songs, and then read the rest of the show – and then pitched it to the Majestic Theatre’s staff for a production.

“It’s heartwarming, it’s friendly, it’s sweet,” she said. “It makes you want to hold hands with whoever you’re sitting next to.”

“It’s not so sweet that adults won’t like it.” But it has more than enough goofy humor for younger audiences to enjoy. “It truly is a show for all ages, a fun way to start the holidays.”

Of course, when Gullerud initially pitched the show to the Majestic, the holidays she had in mind were in 2020. But the pandemic forced a delay of two years, and so cast and crew didn’t start work on the production until earlier this year. “We’ve been rehearsing since the end of July for this thing,” she said – but despite the months of work, she’s not seeing any signs of “Elf” burnout among her charges. “Nobody gets sick of it,” she said.

The musical retains the basic story of the movie version of “Elf:” An infant, Buddy Hobbs, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts one Christmas Eve at an orphanage and is transported to the North Pole. Santa decides to raise the child as an elf, but as Buddy grows, that becomes increasingly unworkable. After learning that he’s a human and not an elf, Buddy travels to New York City to search for his father, Walter Hobbs, who is on the naughty list because he doesn’t believe in Santa.

But the musical version does have some significant differences from the movie – and the play works even for people who haven’t seen the movie.

“It has its own sweetness, its own good heart,” Gullerud said.

That’s partially because the show has a positive message underneath its good cheer, she said: “You know, the underlying point of the show is that it’s never too late to grow, you can always change. You can always be a better person, you can always step back and look at what’s important to you.”

Audience members can ponder that message, but they don’t necessarily have to: “Elf” also works as two-and-a-half hours of pure escapism, she said.

The production has been lots of hard work, Gullerud said, but her cast and crew have had plenty of fun along the way – and she believes that fun can be contagious. ”It’s called a play. We are here to play, we’re here to have fun. If we’re having a good time, the audience will have a good time.”

If You Go

What: “Elf,” a musical adaptation of the 2003 movie, a production of the Majestic Theatre.

When: Opening night is Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Weekend shows (Nov. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20) are at 3 p.m. (The Nov. 12 show is sold out.) Thursday and Friday shows (Nov. 10, 11, 17 and 18) are at 7:30 p.m.

How much: Tickets are $11, $16 and $21. Purchase them at the Majestic’s box office, 115 SW Second Ave. in Corvallis, from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, by calling the box office at 541-738-7469 or online by clicking here.

Where: The Majestic is at 115 SW Second St. in Corvallis.

Cast and crew notes: Director Cherie Gullerud has assembled a cast of 48 people, including about two dozen children, who portray many of the North Pole elves and tackle other roles as well. Jim Martinez, the director of the Corvallis Community Band and a mid-valley community theater mainstay, is the music director. The show also features three choreographers, Emily Ferrin, Mimi Chen and Karlie Moore. Cast members include Patrick Moser, Dee Dee Hughes, Shea White-Toney, Pat Chappel, Vanessa Nicholson, Griffin Young, Ashleigh Barbeau, Audrey Bader, Catalina Contreras-Colin and Lizzie Shumway, who kind of got this whole thing going.

Looking for something to do in the mid-valley? Check out my curated calendar of arts-and-entertainment events.

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