Elf The Musical Review

Hull New Theatre – until 6 November 2021

Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams


There were elf hats a plenty in the audience as children (and adults) excitedly anticipated some Christmas cheer and they were not disappointed. Buddy the Elf (Tam Ryan) bounced into the Hull New Theatre and with his child-like enthusiasm and glee won the hearts of a packed audience.

Elf The Musical is based upon the hit film, adapted by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan with music by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. This production is directed by Jon Conway and produced by WBP Ltd. Elf tells the story of Buddy, a young orphan, who climbs into Santa’s sack and ends up at the North Pole where he is brought up as an elf. Of course Buddy grows so much taller than the other elves but it is still a shock to him when he discovers, at the age of 30, that he is really a human. Santa tells him his father is really Walter Hobbs who lives in New York, but what is even more shocking to Buddy is that his father is on the naughty list because he doesn’t believe in Santa. We then follow Buddy’s adventures in New York, where he is a square peg in a round hole, full of joy and happiness and most importantly of all believing in Santa and ultimately saving the day.

Tam Ryan is perfect as Buddy the Elf, full of childishness and naive enthusiasm. His comic timing is superb as Buddy lands himself in all sorts of difficulties. He also builds up a wonderful rapport with the audience, especially the children. He has a great singing voice too. He is the glue that holds this production tightly together.

A special mention should also go to Kelly Banlaki as Jovie, Buddy’s love interest. She had just the right amount of bitterness about men and her singing voice was excellent, “Never fall in Love” was beautifully sung.

Elf The Musical thrives on audience reaction and it was there in droves last night, whether we were “ahing” at the sad parts, shouting at Santa, groaning at the jokes (the adults!) or belly laughing at the slapstick. It was wonderful to see children enthralled by the action on the stage, loving every minute of it and still buzzing at the end.

Elf The Musical is full of songs and dance routines, superbly delivered by the cast, who quickly switched from being elves to office staff to ice skaters etc., providing a lovely spectacle, these were proper old-fashioned type musical songs and routines. I particularly loved the Fake Santas’ routine to “Nobody cares about Santa”. The cast provided plenty of slapstick and visual humour too and were not afraid to throw in the odd ad lib!

The addition of a giant LED screen provided some wonderful animations and backdrops to enhance the story telling, together with clever lighting they made this story glitter and sparkle even more.

All in all, Elf The Musical is a fabulous fun night out for all the family, full of glitter, sparkle and spectacle. It will fill you with just the right sort of Christmas spirit as Buddy saves the day and you will leave the theatre with a warm glow, perfect for these dark nights. For anyone who loves Christmas this is perfection and as to me I just wanted to come home and get the decorations out! Treat yourself or someone special to some tickets!