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Elf The Musical – Walmsley Church AODS

ELF is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. Buddy is raised unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity.

As the festive season approaches, this production by Walmsley Church AODS has a feel-good factor that allows realisation that Christmas is upon us. The familiar story of Buddy the Elf is well known, and this musical version is packed full of catchy tunes that bring the Christmas spirit to the fore.

Santa Claus provides the narration, and this is in the safe hands of Robert Peters who certainly looked the part.

The opening number, “Happy all the Time” was lively, and the costumes provided a realistic characterisation of the elves. Very effective and well executed.

Buddy overhears that he is not an elf, but a human, and sets out to find his father and will do what ever he needs to do to get to him, including turning up at his office, which leads to one disaster after another. Joe Davies plays Buddy with energy throughout.

Buddy meets his dad, Walter, who immediately insists that Buddy should leave as he does not want anything to do with hm. Alan Moss plays Walter well, and is supported by Julie Ogden who plays his wife, Emily. Julie sings so well and gives this part her all. Completing the family, son Michael is played by Theo Lindley who breezes his way through with ease.

Emily soon brings Walter round and Buddy is welcomes as part of the family, although his strange habits do take some getting used to.

As part of his adventure, Buddy meets Jovie and instantly falls in love, although Jovie does need some convincing. Scarlett Sandiford excels in this role. Great stage presence and such a voice. Songs beautifully delivered with controlled vocals.

Walter is under threat of losing his job, mainly due to the stress caused by his boss, Mr Greenway, which David Wilson plays to perfection, complete with executive stress! David always characterises well and gives his all and this role was no exception.

Cameo roles come thick and fast. Eileen Reeves as Deb, the office secretary, gives the right amount of chaos to the role, making you almost feel sorry for her. Vicki Wilson doubling as a pleasing Mrs Claus and a sophisticated Charlotte Dennon. David Witt plays an authoritative manager.

All the above were supported by an excellent ensemble who never stopped and delivered number after number with aplomb.

The orchestra were on top form, led by musical director Tim Power, assisted by Tom Bowes.

With Direction by Nora Howcroft and Choreography by Lara Syddall, this festive treat was enough to blow away the autumnal blues.

Paul Cohen