THEATER REVIEWS Connick's 'Happy Elf' big fun at PYT
A fabulous combination of masterful music, physical fireworks and dramatic flair, all focused on a wonderful children's morality story, bursts onto stage in "The Happy Elf," produced by The Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, through Dec. 16, Charles A. Brown Ice House, Bethlehem.
"The Happy Elf" is wonderful, smile-inducing fun, based on a story by Lauren Gunderson and Andrew Fishman inspired by the Harry Connick Jr. song of the same title. The PYT production is directed by Bill Mutimer.
Eubie, played with brilliant elfish charm by David Errigo, Jr., led the Candy Cane Cast opening night, Nov. 30, in the lovely, dance-filled, music-driven story about what happens when he, Santa's happiest elf, notices there's a town, Bluesville, where all of the children are on Santa's Naughty List.
Norbert (multi-faceted Brent Schlosshauer), the passive-aggressive boss in the toy factory and Eubie's nemesis, is first-rate singing "That Magical Hat."
Santa (Ty Hooker-Haring), with the help of the Snowboard Elves, does a great job singing "We are Leaders of The Pole." Mrs. Clause (Kathy Burke-Hill), Eubie and Santa sing the rollicking "I'm Santariffic."
The Mayor of Bluesville (imposing Michael Melcher), the Mayor's Wife (Jeni Lynn Toner) and Raccoon (Eric Metz ) deliver a moving rendition of "Bluesville."
The head Snowboard Elf (polished Paul C. Bonnici) is completely believable. Gilda (Angela DeAngelo) and Hamm (versatile Nick Flatto) are Eubie's biggest helpers.
Santa's youngest helpers, the Toy Elves, Reindeer Elves, Candy Cane Elves and Snowboard Elves, wonderfully costumed by Bill Bauman, provide nonstop action. The Elfettes (six beautiful girls with grace and poise beyond their years) stand out.
Music Director Sheri Melcher conducts Moravian College student musicians who perform Connick's music in a very entertaining way.
Co-choreographers Jerri Brown and Amy Browne Smith did a terrific job getting the more than 70-member cast on cue and in step for a seamless performance.
Megan Truscott's versatile set design, combined with Anthony Forchiella's lighting skills, makes believable the transitions from a cheery North Pole village to sad and depressing Bluesville.