Elf - the Musical
- By gentleguide
- On Wed 21 nov 2018
The Des Moines Playhouse opens their holiday family-friendly mainstage musical next Friday, and this year they’re going all in on the yuletide merriment. Elf - the Musical opens Friday November 30, and runs weekends up until the day before Christmas Eve. The story of Buddy the Elf and his discovery of the world beyond the North Pole is a great modern tale using familiar traditions to show all of us how wonderful holiday spirit can be.
Buddy the Elf (played by tremendous enthusiasm by Mitch Kedzior) isn’t really an elf. Santa’s helpers adopted him when Santa accidentally brought him back as a baby, in his sack one year after all the Christmas deliveries. Upon discovering his human nature, Buddy decides to head south to the bustle of New York City (because everything is south when you’re at the North Pole) to find his father and the rest of his family. Along the way, he also meets Jovie (Lauren Malcomson), a young woman working at Macy’s and decidedly lacking in the holiday spirit. Buddy will change all their lives, and many more... and maybe even help save Santa and Christmas by the time Elf - the Musical is all said and done.
Kedzior is just as enthusiastic about this show as Buddy is about Christmas. “I’ve always loved musical theatre,” he says. “I grew up in a family that really supported and encouraged involvement in music and dance. My mom, Susan Kedzior, has a Masters Degree in vocal performance and works part-time as a voice teacher. Naturally, she has taught me pretty much everything I know. She is my biggest supporter and the person I’m always trying to impress.”
While based on the movie Elf starring Will Farrell, Elf - the Musical is not the exact same story. Plus, this is a dancing, singing, holiday wonderland for all. And while Kedzior has the musical chops to definitely star in the part, there’s still a bit of a learning curve.
“I was not very familiar with the musical,” he admits. “In fact, all I knew about it was that there was a song called Sparklejollytwinklejingley. Personally ,my biggest issue is setting myself apart from Will Farrell. He created such an iconic character in the movie. I’m attempting to take his best comedic characteristics and apply my own boyish charm to the role.”
“Buddy has an abundance of love and excitement for every experience he has. He lives in this world of ignorant bliss, and what’s interesting is how easily he brings everyone into his world of joy and Christmas spirit. His love is infectious, and his innocent excitement is what is most intriguing to me.”
Buddy is also intriguing to his new friend Jovie, who is definitely NOT a big fan of Christmas. Lauren Malcomson brings Jovie to life in Elf - the Musical, and is ready for the changes from the movie to the stage. “A few jokes are different, and some of the plot points have had to be changed to work onstage, but the basic story is the same.”
“Jovie has made the switch from movie to musical relatively unscathed,” she continues, “however she seems a bit more cynical in the musical than she is in the movie, and gets more character development. The audience gets more explanation as to why Jovie is as anti-Christmas as she is. The musical version makes it so much easier to get into the minds of the characters and make the story a lot more fun for us to tell, because we get to jump around and dance and sing while telling it!”
“I have an interesting part in that I’m not supposed to be a very ‘Christmas-y’ person throughout much of the show, and so I tend to end up being a bit of a Grinch or Scrooge, characters that are not typically big with kids... but Jovie works as a great foil for Buddy.”
Both Malcomson and Kedzior are students at Drake, in addition to being the leads in Elf - the Musical. As a result, time is fleeting at best, and both have learned how to juggle all of their commitments. Malcomson relates her strategies to make it all work. “Planners and calendars definitely help, as does Redbull, haha! That being said, it can be hard to balance everything, but I’ve learned that it’s important to be aware of your limits and put your personal health first. Making sure you have your priorities in order is something community theatre and college have been instrumental in teaching me. Frankly, I”m amazed by Mitch’s energy and commitment to the show. Buddy has to do some incredibly crazy stunts and physical comedy, and he handles it all beautifully.”
Kedzior is in his senior year at Drake, and that means an extra project for him as part of his studies in addition to his exhaustive work on Elf - the Musical. “For my Senior Capstone, I’m part of a team running the journalistic website Urban Plains (urban-plains.com). Urban Plains explores the dichotomy of the Midwest. This area of the country is often referred to as the ‘flyover states’ and we are analyzing both the good and the bad of the Midwest to create valuable content for our readers/listeners.”
“As part of this, my friend Jessie Spangler and I decided to start a podcast exploring various stereotypes of the Midwest. Each week we have a guest who has had interesting experiences with Iowa or the Midwest in general. We’ve had Kyle Munson (Des Moines Register reporter), T.J. juskiewicz (RAGBRAI Director), and Mike Draper (owner of Raygun). I wanted to start this podcast because the Midwest (and Iowa specifically) has such an interesting array of people who tend to defy the stereotypes that define this region. However, there is a lot of truth to these stereotypes, so this podcast creates open discussion to talk about the Midwest from diverse perspectives.”
Whether it’s the Urban Plains, the wilds of New York City, or the North Pole, your own perspectives on the holiday will result in your mood brightened and your spirit filled with joy if you can attend Elf - the Musical this season. Performances begin Friday November 30, and there are 5 shows every weekend until December 23. Tickets for the DM Playhouse mainstage production are available at the Playhouse box office, their website, or by calling 515-277-6261. And go have a sparklejollytwinklejingley time!
Publicity Photos by Steve Gibbons, Courtesy of the Des Moines Playhouse