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

Ladysmith’s Coats for Folks closes early due to building sale

The sale of a commercial building on First Avenue last month has… Continue reading

VIDEO: It’s Hometown Hockey time in Cowichan!

See our videos and pictures by our reporters from the big event at The Stick.

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Jury convicts spear-wielding Duncan man in 2015 Ladysmith RV park murder

Trever George Meers used a handmade spear to stab Rayna Johnson at the Campers Corners RV Park

VIDEO: World-renowned urban planner encourages Cowichan Valley to ‘benchmark with the best’

CVRD welcomes Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of 8 80 Cities, as part of Place-Making Speaker Series

VIDEO: It’s Hometown Hockey time in Cowichan!

See our videos and pictures by our reporters from the big event at The Stick.

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

UPDATE: City of Nanaimo senior manager dismissed

Chief operations officer Brad McRae no longer employed by the city

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

UPDATE: Ferries sailing again after stormy weather caused cancellations

B.C. Ferries cancelled numerous sailings around Vancouver Island today, Jan. 21

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Most Read