I wouldn’t normally review a children’s theatre show because, well, I’m me, and we know how judgy I am, and contrary to popular belief, I would not enjoy making small children cry. So, when I headed to SMT’s theatre space in Magnusson Park on Saturday night to support the daughter of a colleague of mine who is performing in Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre’s production of Elf, I was off duty, and just there as a patron to watch some kids have some fun on stage. However, I was so impressed by the professionalism of this adorable cast that I had to put fingers to keys and tell you about it.
First of all, I applaud Broadway Bound for taking on 3 casts of kids, because as someone who spent almost a decade working on a summer teen musical program, I know how hard it is to put a show together with just one cast! And they do it with three. I had the privilege of seeing Cast 2 perform, and the things you’d expect in a children’s show were all there. Cute kids, check. Adorable elf costumes, check. Simple blocking and choreography they can all manage, check. Opening night nerves, check. Proud families, a supportive audience, and children running in the aisles, check, check, check. The entire cast maneuvered through the well-known story of Elf with super cute enthusiasm, and looked great in their outstanding costumes whether as elves, Santa, businessmen and women, or as family members. However, a few shining stars stood out.
Tatum Poirrier, who played Charlie the Elf absolutely stole the show for me. This little one is not only tiny and adorable, but is very talented. She worked those tap shoes like nobody’s business, delivered her snappy, sarcastic lines with impeccable timing, and managed to be very much in the moment of each scene she was in. She made choices, good choices, from character to character that she played, and I was highly impressed. Good job, little one!
Also Rose Hunksor who played Mr. Hobb’s assistant, Deb, was fantastic! She had wonderful comedic timing! She understood the role beautifully and brought a depth to each scene she was in that showed craft and talent well beyond her years. Bravo!
Lastly, I really enjoyed Ryan Musehl, who played Santa. His dry line delivery cracked me up and was such a fun choice. Kudos to him for pulling that off with a consistent performance all throughout the show, even when he was having serious issues with Santa’s hat in the final sleigh scene. He didn’t break character at all, just worked through the struggle and stayed in character the whole time. Well done, you!
But the main reason I wanted to write this review was because I wanted to publicly applaud the entire cast, especially Max Zorn who played Buddy, for managing to masterfully maneuver through the myriad of technical problems that were rampant through this show. Buddy’s mic went out multiple times, and while Mr. Zorn didn’t project as much as he needed to for me to hear him back where I was sitting in row N, he didn’t break character or get thrown or stop. He pushed through, showing poise and gumption well beyond his years.
Additionally, when the paper shredder didn’t work, he again didn’t falter, didn’t break, didn’t stop, he just improvised and it was brilliant. He set a great example for the rest of the cast, and they all followed suit. The lead of a show should be a leader, and young Mr. Zorn was definitely that on Saturday night. I don’t know this child, but I was so proud of him for performing with the utmost professionalism.
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Mia Kunins, who is the child I came to see, and thought her colorful elf, and sassy businesswoman were well done! Also, I found out that Ms. Kunins was given new lines early that morning, and with such a short turnaround time, she delivered them so well! She was also in quite a few scenes where there were technical difficulties, and she never broke, once! Not even when another actor wasn’t where they needed to be and she stumbled on stage. She didn’t break character, just got back up and kept singing. Bravo!
The tech issues didn’t stop there. There were lighting/blackout timing issues, mic issues where the sound tech left mics hot for cast members who were backstage and you could hear the little ones whispering and chattering away in the house distracting from what was going on during the scene on stage, and Santa’s sleigh got set wrong and when they tried to pull it off it got caught on the set. Sigh.
While this was opening night for cast 2, it was the second night for the production team, so I’m hoping they get things fixed and work out the kinks because these kids are working really hard on stage, doing really good stuff, and they deserve to have a clean tech.
Elf runs two more weekends, and if you’ve got little ones in your household, and you want something fun to do with them this holiday season, take them to see Elf. It’s really cute and a lot of fun to watch.
I give this a big Bravo to the kids, and thunderous applause for their outstanding professionalism in the face of major technical difficulties!
Ciao for now,