STOS Theatre Company’s Elf the Musical – 16 November 2021, Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Review by Jacob Bush.

Christmas has well and truly started in Sheffield! The Christmas market has opened, the Christmas lights switch will be switched on this Sunday and the first Christmas production for the year has opened in the city. This production is none other than the hit Broadway and West End musical Elf the Musical. After a year away due to the pandemic, STOS Theatre Company return to the Lyceum Theatre with their colourful, joyful and, well, sparklejollytwinklejingley production of the show.

Elf the Musical is a great adaptation of the classic festive film with some really fun musical numbers by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. The show is packed full of big production numbers which makes it a really vibrant and feel-good musical. Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin’s book has enough laughs scattered throughout and, for the most part, the characters all feel fully fleshed out and all go on a journey throughout the show.

Mark Harris directs this production, alongside Jill Beckett, who have done a fantastic job. They’ve managed to incorporate a huge cast without the stage ever feeling too full or busy. Some of the set changes did feel a little longer than they should have done but I’m sure this will slicken up as the run progresses. Claire Harriott’s choreography is simple, whilst offering the strongest dancers within the cast the opportunity to showcase their skills, whilst being really fun and bringing a great amount of energy to the full cast numbers. The set from Scenic Projects Ltd and the costumes from ‘That Looks Good Costume Hire Ltd’ as well as Kate Parkin are spot on. They’re full of colour, especially for the scenes set in Christmastown.

STOS Theatre Company has assembled a very strong cast for this production of Elf the Musical. There’s so much talent in the city that the roles of Buddy and Jovie have been double cast. For this performance, Richard Granger played the role of Buddy alongside his real-life wife Katie Granger. Katie Granger gives a lovely performance of Jovie, although I did feel the character needed a little more stage time as her character progression did feel a little rushed at times. Katie Granger’s voice is beautiful and a delight to listen to, although I would have liked some of her songs to have a little more power behind them. Buddy the Elf is a huge role and Richard Granger is a true star. He is funny, has a huge amount of energy and stage presence and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His vocals are outstanding and he blows the roof off several times throughout the show. His real-life chemistry with Katie comes across on stage, although a little more stage time to see their on-stage relationship develop wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Andrew Hibbert as the cold-hearted Walter Hobbs is brilliant. He is completely believable in the role and he portrays the character’s development expertly. Louise Walker plays his wife, Emily Hobbs, alongside her real-life son Oliver Walker as Michael Hobbs (as certain performances). Both are excellent and it’s very warming to see a real mother and son play opposite each other. Louise Walker’s vocals are particularly strong and Oliver Walker has a great rapport with Richard Granger as Buddy.

The show has a very strong supporting cast as well. Rosie Choppin is hilarious as Deb whilst Carol Wibberley is perfectly menacing as Mrs Greenway. Joe White gives a great performance as the Chief Elf Charlie and Andrew Stansall is great fun as the Manager of Macy’s. Steve and Debbie Mather play Santa and Mrs Claus who are both lovely to watch. I would have liked to see a bit of Mrs Claus as she doesn’t actually make an on-stage appearance until towards the end. Steve Mather is wonderfully grandfatherly and narrates the piece very well.

STOS Theatre Company’s is a fantastic way to start the Christmas season in Sheffield and is great fun for all the family. Be sure to catch the company’s terrific return to the Lyceum with Elf the Musical, which runs until Saturday 20th November. To book visit https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/events/elf-the-musical

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