All Buddy the Elf wants for Christmas is to meet his biological father and spread some holiday cheer. He’ll get the chance starting Thursday, when the cast of Umpqua Actors Community Theatre’s “Elf the Musical” takes the stage at Umpqua Community College’s Jacoby Auditorium.
“‘Elf the Musical’ is a jazzy, festive interpretation of the 2003 Will Farrell film,” actor David Jones said. “It is family fun, silly, sparkly, jolly, and twinkly!”
Much like the movie, the musical follows Buddy, a human raised as an over-sized elf, as he journey’s from Santa’s workshop in the North Pole to New York City in search of his long-lost family.
The cast is made of up 32 members who, according to director Melody Schwegel, range in age from 10-65.
“Buddy, Jovie, Walter, Emily, Michael, Deb, Manager, Santa are all in the original movie,” Schwegel said. “Here, they are given new life with some of the same familiar lines and character traits. There are new characters that are added in the musical that are just as fun and add so much to the story.”
Levi Yutzie tackles the role of Buddy, who he calls “this silly, childish and relatable character. You could compare him to a cartoon with how I like to portray him.”
Yutzie, who has participated in several UACT productions before this, said Buddy is both an easy and a difficult character for him to portray.
“It’s easy because I have so many references to use because of the movie, but it was also difficult because I had to make Buddy my own character. Luckily I was able to do that,” he said.
Yutzie went so far as to dye his hair red for the part, because he didn’t want to wear a wig.
Chris Davidson stepped into the role of Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s real dad, about three weeks ago after the previous actor had to step down. Thankfully, this is one of the easier roles Davidson has played.
“He’s sort of a take on Scrooge as he’s let his work consume his life and neglected his family in the process,” Davidson said. “Walter has also lost his Christmas spirit to the daily grind.”
While he has participated in numerous roles before, this is the most kids Davidson has ever acted with. It has taught him to be patient with the process, he says.
“This is by far the most kids I’ve ever acted with and large percentage of the cast are new or relatively new to theater so you have to be patient as people learn how things work, especially in a larger musical production,” he said.
Playing Michael Hobbs, Buddy’s younger step-brother, will be 11-year-old Evan Lewandowski’s second time on stage.
“Acting is what I love to do and I love to entertain for the enjoyment of others,” he said.
For Evan, the costume changes for the finale has been a difficulty for him, but it is also rewarding because the finale is his favorite part.
“I love the finale because of how it is set up and the overall feel of the set,” Evan said.
“We wanted something big and bold. Something that everyone would recognize and love. ‘Elf’ checked all the boxes. It’s also one of my favorite Christmas movies so I had to jump at the chance to direct it,” Schwegel said.
“Elf the Musical” will begin Thursday. Held at UCC’s Jacoby Auditorium, 1140 Umpqua College Road, Roseburg, it will run at various times from Dec. 9-19. Two performances have been reserved for vaccinated audiences or for anyone, regardless of age, with a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to the performance. Masks will be required at all times while in the theatre. Guests will also be asked to keep one empty seat between parties for adequate spacing.
“My main hope is that people take home some more cheer and learn what the holidays are about once again from a different version of the movie that we’ve all watched over and over with our families,” Yutzie said.