'Elf' Will Provide All The Christmas Joy You Need

By: Elizabeth Van Wye

Matt Kohler as Buddy in “Elf, the Musical,” opening at the Cape Cod Theatre Company on Dec. 6. TAMARA HARPER PHOTO

Does the commercialism surrounding the Christmas holidays make you feel more like "Bah, Humbug!" than "Joy to the World?" If so, you may have company.

Maybe what we all need is just what Cape Cod Theatre Company is offering, the Cape Cod premiere of "Elf, the Musical."

Based on the classic 2003 movie that starred Will Ferrell as Buddy, "Elf" is the tale of a young orphan who accidentally crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and winds up transported to the North Pole. When Buddy grows up there, his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth: He is human. With Santa's permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identify and help New York remember the real meaning of Christmas.

Matt Kohler stars in the role of Buddy. Kohler, who is also the CCTC's technical director, is doing double duty in this show, painting and building sets along with the challenges of a demanding starring role.

"'Elf' is one of my favorite holiday films," Kohler said recently. "It seemed like a fun challenge."

Especially challenging for Kohler is maintaining Buddy's high energy level throughout the show, singing and dancing as well as "bopping, skipping, shouting and generally performing non-stop," he added with a smile. Kohler is ramping up his healthy diet and adding power bars and plenty of water to the mix. "It's a little like a gym workout," he added.

"I love the story," Kohler said. "It's about a man who is finding a family he never knew he had. And also celebrating the family that raised him. It's silly, hilarious and heartwarming.

"Elf is a cup of hot cocoa for the heart," Kohler said. "Be prepared to laugh for two hours!"

Director Bob Wilder and choreographer Suzette Hutchinson showcase their musical talents in "Elf." Hutchinson, who has choreography credits stretching back two decades, said the music really inspired her for the choreography in this show.

"The music is so catchy it makes you want to move!" she said. Hutchinson was not familiar with "Elf" when she signed on, so she quickly downloaded the music. "I got hooked by the soundtrack," she recalled. There's a swing number that's the big production of the show, she said. "It's comical and it comes out of the blue!" There's also a skating number that is staged at Rockefeller Center in New York, which required skaters and non-skaters alike to perfect that motion.

Wilder has been directing for two decades and often also serves as musical director at CCTC/HJT. Working with a cast of nearly a dozen and an ensemble of over 25 adults, teens and children from all over Cape Cod can have its challenges. Wilder noted the biggest one was "where to put everyone on the stage for the finale!" He laughed, adding, "everyone involved is basically nice people and the work has really been fun."

The show also features Caitlin Mills as Jovie, with Rick Smith, Rebecca Lach, Kelly Martin, Cara Gerardi, Warren Harrington, Alex Perry, Brendan Cloney, Doug Sivco and David Wallace.

"Elf, The Musical" opens Dec. 6 at the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre and run through Jan. 5. Extra vacation shows have been added. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.capecodtheatrecompany.org or call 866-811-4111; or the CCTC/HJT Box Office on Wednesdays from noon to 2 p.m., and 2 hours prior to all performances at 508-432-2002.