Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

‘Elf’ delivers plenty of Christmas cheer

Civic Theatre presents holiday adaptation at Arts United Center

Civic Theatre's "Elf The Musical" continues at Arts United Center through Nov. 20.

Jen Poiry Prough

Whatzup Features Writer

Published November 9, 2022

For some of us, the holidays can’t come soon enough. Fresh off of Halloween, the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre ushers in the holiday season with its fantastic production of Elf The Musical

Adapted from the 2003 Will Ferrell movie, the heartwarming story follows Buddy, a human raised by elves, who travels south to New York City to meet the father who never knew he existed. Along the way, he finds love and teaches his father the meaning of family.

The musical features many of the famous lines and moments the movie’s fans are expecting, while expanding on the story through infectious song and dance numbers choreographed by the show’s director, Doug King. 

Some crowd favorites include the second-act opener, “Nobody Cares About Santa,” with Fosse-inspired dance moves, and the wonderful tap finale.

The production was perfectly cast with several standouts in the ensemble as well as the leading performers. Lincoln Everetts is a sheer delight as Buddy, bringing every ounce of energy, enthusiasm, and innocence the role requires. Buddy’s love interest Jovie is played by Anya Smead, who skillfully treads the line between cynicism and hope. Matt Faley is perfectly irascible as Buddys’ father, Walter Hobbs; Emily Schwartz Keirns is classy and understated as his wife, Emily; and Carter Hammond is lovable as Buddy’s little brother Michael who similarly longs for a relationship with their father. 

Gary Coffelt, a real-life “professional Christmas Entertainer” as stated in his bio, is the quintessential Santa Claus, who also serves as the narrator, in place of the Bob Newhart’s Papa Elf character from the film.

In the ensemble, Prentis Moore is hilarious both as the beleaguered Macy’s manager and one of several disgruntled Santas hanging out in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day. Susannah Crockett, who plays Walter’s hardworking receptionist Deb, nails the New York accent, and Bethany Schmitt shines in a small role as a restaurant server, dancing flawlessly in the “Nobody Cares About Santa” number.

The younger cast members were also excellent, including Liam Wilson as a little boy in the Santa line at Macy’s.

The sets, designed by Adam Fletcher, are clever and reminiscent of a children’s pop-up book, and projected artwork tells the story of Buddy’s journey. 

The costumes by Sarah Moloney, the sound designed by Mariah Roberts, and the lighting designed by Andrew Holderfield all work together to tell the story in a beautiful way. And there are a couple of unexpected effects toward the end that contribute to the magic of the show.

 For many of us, it’s been a difficult year. Elf The Musical is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season and put us in a sparkle­jollytwinklejingley mood.

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