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can be better than spending New Year's Eve at the Adrienne Arsht Center
for the Performing Arts in Miami with 8 Santas? And when was the last
time you watched elves, a week after Christmas, or any other time for
that matter, singing and dancing for you? Add a 'Once Upon A Time' tale
told by THE Santa about an elf Buddy who doesn't realize he is human.
Now put many kids in the audience seeing a live musical for the first
time and you, an adult, will become a kid again.

"Elf" follows
two major story lines with the first being about Buddy finding out he is
human and going to New York to meet his real father discovering he also
has a stepmother and a brother. We follow his adventures as a 'fish out
of water', dressed in his elf clothes, discovering New York city and
New Yorkers.

The other story revolves around how many people in
the area don't believe in Santa anymore. As Santa explains he leaves
Vermont and drops into a black hole of the tri-State area. This is a
modern Santa with his reindeer being retired after a PETA movement
accuses him of cruelty to animals. His sled, with all the gifts for
children around the world, now needs the belief and love of people to
get, and keep, his sleigh up in the air. By the way Santa now has an
Ipad to keep him up to date with who was naughty and who was nice.

a book by Thomas and Bob Martin, plus music and lyrics by Matthew Sklar
and Chad Beguelin, we watch Buddy fall in love, his father turn from a
man to hasn't time for his family man turn into the father he and his
brother, Michael, want not to mention his stepmother getting the husband
she knows is still in the man she married.

Jane Bruce and Tyler
Altomari, as mother and son, have two duets, one including "There is a
Santa Claus", selling them as only professionals can do. Matthew Alan
Smith does a smooth transition from the too busy father/husband to the
caring man he really is and his family wants.

Kate Hennies plays
Buddy's love interest Jovie, who has become a cynical New Yorker after
moving there. Her voice soars filling every nook and cranny of the
theatre especially in her big number "Never Fall In Love". The ensemble,
and the rest of the supporting cast, are in top form adding to all the

Santa, played by Gordon Gray, does what he can with the
material he is handed, not getting enough time on stage but you just
know the kids in the audience believe in him.

The star of the
show is Matt Kopec as Buddy. He sings, dances, acts, ice skates and uses
his elastic body to get in all shapes that seem impossible. He was like
a young Ray Bolger, for those of you old enough to remember him! He
does his hardest to make us believe in him, Santa and the show.

about ice skating the production does have a scene of Buddy, Jovie and
New Yorkers ice skating in the Rockefeller Center rink, which the
director Sam Scalamont and choreographer Connor Gallagher should have
made more of a center piece in the second act. The sets and costumes all
had the holiday feeling.

Don't know if it is always done but the
production provided 'snow' falling in the lobby during intermission
which thrilled the kids and quite a few of their parents and

"Elf" is a holiday show that will probably be
revived every December and though it might not have memorable songs and
has a book that should be cut to make the whole show move faster it is a
fun time to get and keep the holiday spirit, not to mention to make you
believe in Santa Claus.

1st act: 1 hour and 15 minutes Intermission: 20 minutes 2nd act: 45 minutes

week Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Wizard Of Oz" based on the movie
version--at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale.

On February 4th the big Broadway hit "Once" will open at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

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