Elf the Musical at Olney Theatre

The movie Elf has been a cult classic since it was first released in 2003. It’s hard to resist Will Farrell as a giant, clumsy elf who finds out that he is actually a human who doesn’t belong in Santa’s workshop at all. Still, Elf does not seem like an obvious choice to turn into a Broadway-style musical. Nevertheless, Elf the Musical is a fantastic show that the whole family can truly enjoy.
Devotees of Elf (the movie) should know that, while I have seen the movie, it’s been years since I last saw it, so I can’t comment on how much or when the play deviates from the movie. That said, from what I do remember Elf the Musical follows the movie pretty closely.

For those unfamiliar, Buddy the elf lives in the North Pole with Santa and his family of elves. Inexplicably, he towers above the other elves at over six feet tall and cannot keep up with toy production quotas the way the other elves can. Santa finally reveals that Buddy is in fact not an elf, but a human with a father in New York City. Buddy finds his Dad, who doesn’t quite know what to make of the 30 year old man dressed as an elf who shows up on his doorstep, but Buddy eventually convinces his Dad, step-Mom and half-brother about the importance of family and convinces all of New York that Santa is real. Along the way, Buddy beats up a fake Santa in Macy’s, falls in love, and finds acceptance with family and friends who like him just the way he is.

I brought my children, ages 3, 8, and 10 with me to the play. They all loved it, as did I. There are a couple of references to Santa not being real, but in the end those doubts are quashed. There are very few references to adult matters but they are subtle and went over my kids’ heads. The show we saw was full of families and adults who came to see the show without kids.

Elf the Musical is a great choice for a family outing to get into the holiday spirit. I loved that Elf had a child-friendly subject matter while still encompassing all of splendor and glamour of an (off) Broadway show complete with elaborate sets, costumes and show-stopping songs throughout. There is even “real” snow that magically falls from the sky at the end of the performance.

Good to Know:

  • There is plenty of free parking.
  • There are snacks and beverages available before the show and during intermission. There are adult and kid beverages and candy and cookies available. Eating and drinking (quietly) is permitted during the performance.
  • The show runs about two and a half hours with a 15 minute intermission.
  • Elf runs from November 9, 2018 – January 6, 2019
  • For age guidance, Olney Theatre notes that the movie upon which the play is based was rater PG-13. However, my own three year old and several other young children in the audience enjoyed the play and I didn’t find anything objectionable in the play itself.
  • Tickets are anywhere from $69 to $89, although discounts may be available through third party sites.
  • Our seats were in the balcony and we had a great view. None of children complained about not being able to see.

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