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Chagrin Valley Little Theatre’s ‘ELF’ is sparklejollytwinklejingley fun

It’s the Holiday Season once again and that means that the various themed productions celebrating holly jolly, tinsel and such rolls through town. One of the more popular productions is the musical “ELF” based on the 2003 motion picture of the same name. The musical’s score is by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin with book by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan. The musical had a brief Broadway run from 2010 to 2013 and was produced in London’s West End during the 2015-16 season. It has also toured extensively primarily during the Christmas holiday season and is a favorite of community theaters across the country.

In order for the show to work it has to have four elements. The cast needs to be energetic, the singing needs to be top notch with a perfect blending of voices along with a good orchestra and the role of Buddy the elf needs to convey that feeling of innocent man child wonder. In regards to the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre production...check...check...and check!

It is Christmas time at the North Pole and the elves are busy making the toys in time for Santa’s annual trip around the globe. Production is high except for one exceptionally large elf, Buddy (John Kolar). For whatever reason his numbers never seem to equal those of his fellow workers. Accidentally, Buddy hears two elves talking about him and discovers that he is in fact human (explaining his size).

Santa (Nick Alder) is summoned to comfort the distraught lad and after some discussion about his deceased mother and life in an orphanage it is decided that it is time for Buddy to go out into the world (particularly New York City) to seek his birth father, Walter Hobbs, (Steve Brown) who has no knowledge of Buddy. It was while at the orphanage that Santa had visited many years ago that Buddy had crawled into the empty gift sack and was whisked away to the North Pole where he was adopted and raised by the elves.

Buddy sets out to the Big Apple with only an address (The Empire State Building) to guide him and manages to makes his way to the publishing firm that his real father manages and introduces himself. While there he meets his step mother Emily (Emily Stack) and step brother, Michael (Lucy “Red” Mango). Emily plucks a strand of hair from Buddy and with a sample of her husband’s hair finds that Buddy is indeed the off spring of her husband.

The cast is very well blended for this show. John Kolar does a fine job as Buddy singing and dancing his way into the hearts of the audience. Steve Brown as Walter Hobbs plays a nice balance of gruff boss and distracted manager turned family man never getting too extreme either way in the roll. Emily Stack as Emily Hobbs is affectionate and caring and Lucy Mango as Michael bonds well with Buddy. Nick Adler as Santa does a more upbeat and modern version of the character. Sarah Gordon (Jovie), transforms from Grinch to Buddy’s romantic interest convincingly. The rest of the cast is made up of: Amy Mango (Deb), Kathy Pekarcik (Mrs. Claus), Christopher Wuehler (Chadwick), Elisabeth Roter (Matthews), Louis Schwartz (Macy’s Manager) and Tobias Morrison (Mr. Greenway).

The Elves/Youth Ensemble are Alexa Decker, Dave Jezek, Koriander Jezek, Nathan Miller, Charlie Morrison, Frankie Morrison, Sacha Morrison, Vivien Morrison, J. J. Nightwine, Lily Shumaker, Juliana Shumaker and Wrenn Warren. The Adult Ensemble members are Pamela Sheehan Brown, Christine Francisco, Allie Morrison, Tobias Morrison, Sofia Palma, Michela Palma, Kathy Pekarcik, Matt Rondini, Elisabeth Roter, Louis Schwartz, Kara Simpson and Christopher Wuehler.

The orchestra is made up of Jonathan Gordon (Director/Keyboard 1), Kristen Johnson (Keyboard 2), Justin O’Toole (Reeds), Max Michael (Trumpet), John Koch (Bass), John Mullen (Drums) and Cade Pastor (Percussionist).

This is truly one of the better productions of this holiday classic due mainly to the talent of the cast and the expertise of the orchestra. The holiday cheer is infectious and quickly takes over the audience in waves. In short, this show will make you “Happy All The Time.”

“ELF” will be on stage at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, 40 River Street, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, through December 17, 2022. Supposedly it is sold out but there is a waiting list for those with a true interest in seeing the show. For more information about the show go to or call (440) 247-8955.


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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