Elf, a ‘sparkle, jolly, twinkle, jingley’ show

It’s delightful, traditional, childlike, innocent and fun.

Elf is everything a Christmas story should be, and then some.

It’s delightful, traditional, childlike, innocent and fun. It’s also challenging, complex, iconoclastic, irreverent and sophisticated… how could production set in the North Pole on the one hand, and New York City on the other, have anything but a split personality.

And the performance put on by Chemainus Theatre manages to capture the dual dimensions of this script and do it justice in a thoroughly entertaining way.

I should say at the outset that musicals have never been my thing. But when a show is choreographed, costumed, set and performed with the skill and energy that went into Elf, even grinches like me can get carried away.

The only quibble I had was the acoustics. Sometimes I couldn’t make out the words in the songs. My partner assures me she could hear everything perfectly, so I am forced to admit this might have had more to do with the performance of my eardrums, than with what was emanating from the stage.

Based on a screenplay by David Berenbaum, which in turn was based on a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, this play consciously strikes a balance between entertaining children and adults – without confusing one audience or bemusing other.

That is the most remarkable thing about it. We were fortunate to be seated behind an extended family, that included grandparents, parents and kids ranging in age from about five to perhaps 10 years old.

Everyone seemed to have a great time.

This is the kind of play where the whole cast has to shine to carry it off. The roles of Elf (Andrew Cohen) and Santa (Hal Kerbes) stand out, but everyone sparkled, their singing, dancing and acting carrying the audience along on a happy fantasy.

At points I wondered if the play might not damage that child’s vision of Christmas for some of the younger members of the audience. It exposes the cynical underside of the season bluntly in the person of Mr. Greenway (Scott Walters) a thoroughly jaded publisher of children’s books.

It also features a room full of shabby, department store Santas dining Chinese after their night’s work, and bemoaning the disrespect and disbelief they are forced to endure on Santa’s throne.

In the end, though, belief triumphs – whether that be belief in the real Santa, or in Santa as part of a tradition that has generated constellations of childhood memories.

The message comes through loud and clear in Elf: It’s our own ‘spirit of Christmas’ that buoys Santa’s sleigh through the ‘sparkle, jolly, twinkle, jingley’ night sky every December.

 

Just Posted

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Op-Ed: Modernizing forestry and prioritizing reconciliation

Doug Routley writes on Fairy Creek and Central Walbran Valley old growth deferrals

The log retaining wall that supports the access road to the Ladysmith Community Marina is failing and needs to be replaced. (Cole Schisler photo)
Remediation work for community marina access road expected to be costly

A log retaining wall between the access road and the parking area is failing and must be replaced

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read