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Elf and The Wizard of Oz

When Elf (the movie) came out in 2003 people were expecting a goofy Christmas romp. While it was hilarious, the reason it remains a seasonal favorite is because of the sweet message at its core. What could have been pure comedy instead had real heart, encouraging even the grumpiest of adults to find the magic in Christmas. Now the movie is a musical and Broadway Across America has brought the cheerful production to Indianapolis just in time for the holidays. 

That unbridled enthusiasm translates well into a stage musical, where bursting into song is expected, but something is inevitably lost with that expectation. We know there will be singing, so it's not surprising when Buddy the Elf starts singing in the midst of Macy's Christmas rush.

The musical takes that same plot of the film and adds bubbly songs and gives a few characters a bit more meat. Buddy's new stepmother Emily and his father's assistant Deb both benefit from the changes and are great in their respective roles. Emily particularly excels at the songs with playful banter with her husband, like "In the Way." 

The whimsical set captures the storybook feel nicely. Buddy the Elf is tireless in his eagerness to please. The show will be a delight for kids who have grown up with Buddy the Elf as a Christmas staple, but adults should be ready for a bit more sweetness than the film provides.
Don't Miss the Show 

The show runs until Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Old National Centre (Murat Theatre) so hurry to get tickets. Tickets can be purchased at Clowes Memorial Hall, The Murat Theatre, by calling (800)-982-2787 or online here. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Photos courtesy of Broadway Across America

The Wizard of Oz 

As the music swells in the orchestra pit, the familiar score immediately takes audiences back to a tiny farm in Kansas. The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre's holiday offering this year is The Wizard of Oz.

I viewed a rehearsal of the production and so things were still being ironed out in that performance. The set and costumes were the final versions and those were both breathtaking. It's no surprise that veteran set designer Robert Koharchik knocked it out of the park. He created a farm yard steeped in sepia tones and a vibrant city of Oz with all the trimmings. There is a yellow brick road, a rainbow tunnel, a forest, and even the cornfield bursting with glittery brilliance. It's truly a visual trip to Oz.

The costumes, designed by Adrienne Conces, were just as luxurious. From the tiniest of munchkins in the Lollipop Guild to the sheer size of Glinda's poofy sleeves, no detail was neglected. I was also impressed, for the second time in the last couple months, with Damon Clevenger's performance. He plays the scarecrow perfectly, embracing both the tenderness of the character and the physical comedy the role requires.

The family-friendly show is a good fit for those who've loved the musical for decades and those who are new to the story.

Don't Miss the Show 
Performances: The show runs until Jan. 3. Performances begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre is located at 3 Center Green, Carmel, IN 46032 at the Center for the Performing Arts. 
Tickets: Ticket prices range from $24 to $46.50 and can be purchased by calling (317) 843-3800 or visiting 

Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing