You’re likely to get a sugar high from “Elf: The Musical.”
The relentlessly cheerful holiday show, back at Ordway Center through Dec. 30, feels like a day spent at the amusement park geeking out on fizzy drinks and cotton candy while singing “Happy All the Time.”
Then again, what kid doesn’t like sweets in this season when adults, too, are getting a bit into their ’nog?
The stage adaptation of Will Ferrell’s 2003 comedy first played the St. Paul venue in 2012. If this edition of director Sam Scalamoni’s entertaining touring show is different, it’s in degrees. The energy level is even more amped up. And there is some localized banter about the Vikings and other Minnesota touchstones.
No one will accuse this cheerful staging — and its peppy dances by choreographer Connor Gallagher — of not trying hard enough.
Narrated by Santa (nice-and-naughty Ken Clement), “Elf” is an Etch A Sketch story about a misfit who finds out that he really doesn’t belong.
When he was a toddler, Buddy (Sam Hartley) hid out in Santa’s bag and was taken to the North Pole, where he grew up in Santa’s workshop alongside the worker elves. Now 30, but still a kid at heart, he finds out he’s human, and journeys to New York to find his biological father: overworked professional Walter (fussy Joel Stigliano), who now has a wife (poised Marie Lemon) and son (played by the terrific Isaac Leer at Sunday’s matinee).
Buddy’s whole existence is predicated on making people believe in Santa, the real one that he knows, and catch the Christmas spirit. That includes a woman he falls for — Jovie (McKenzie Lesser-Roy), who is not really into Christmas. Good luck with that.
Conductor Sean Cameron’s orchestra is bright and boisterous as it delivers Matthew Sklar’s razzmatazz score and Chad Beguelin’s droll lyrics. (The book is by Thomas Meehan, who also wrote “Annie” and “Hairspray,” and Bob Martin.) It’s clear that the creative team loves classic movie musicals, as there are nods to “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Mary Poppins,” whose “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” has a counterpart here in “Sparklejollytwinklejingley.”
The orchestra, and cast, nail songs such as “The Story of Buddy the Elf” and “World’s Greatest Dad.” The company puts a lot of personality into their characters. Hartley invests Buddy with enough innocence to make you feel that he really believes in Santa, even though he’s a bit overgrown for that. His charisma wins the day. And Lesser-Roy invests her big number, “Never Fall in Love” (with an elf, that is), with wit and charm.
All that good music and dance gives you a happy feeling as you leave the theater, though all too soon, you’ll come crashing down from the sugar rush.
firstname.lastname@example.org • 612-673-4390 • Twitter: @rohanpreston