Every generation has its family favourite Christmas movie.
Baby Boomers have It’s a Wonderful Life, Gen X’ers have National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Millenials have Home Alone, and for Gen Z’ers, their classic may very well be Elf.
“I feel like Elf is one of the Christmas movies that is truly timeless in a sense that everybody has seen it at least once. It’s still being introduced to small children,” says Connor Yates, who plays the starring role of Buddy the Elf in North Peace Secondary’s musical rendition, which made its debut last week.
“It’s just one of those Christmas movies that you can watch again and again, every year, and you can still find joy in it.”
Based on the 2003 film that starred comedian Will Ferrell, Elf the Musical follows Buddy, a human raised by Santa Claus and his elves in the North Pole, and his adventure to New York City to finally meet his real dad, Walter Hobbs, a publisher of children’s books (played by Gavin Forrest).
“He gets into some hijinks in New York City, he finally meets his dad, messes up big time, gets into some more hijinks, of course, then he finally makes it up to his father by selling him the best story pitch ever,” says Yates.
“And then he saves Christmas by bringing everybody together, raising the Christmas spirit.”
Along the way, Buddy meets Jovie (played by Shayne Turner) setting up a Christmas display at a department store. Jovie hates Christmas but Buddy has his heart set on changing her mind, making it his mission to fall in love with the holiday — and, eventually, in love with him.
“It’s pretty cool story because Buddy grows up completely isolated for 30 years, growing up with elves. His whole experience of the world is crunched into one week,” says Turner. “So he comes to New York, he’s experiencing love and family and heartbreak and loneliness, all these different feelings.
"It’s really a really cute story, because it’s like watching someone experience life for the first time," Turner says. "I really liked that part of it."
The play is directed by NPSS theatre teacher Ted Sloan, with musical direction by band instructor David Price.
And close to 100 students have put in hundreds of hours bringing the show to life over the fall semester, from rehearsing their lines in musical production class, to making props and sets in stagecraft class.
“Just to have everyone come together was an amazing thing,” says Sloan, a veteran of the professional theatre world.
“I know a lot of my kids have jobs, they have homework, they have siblings, they have relatives, so I’m just constantly impressed and amazed at how much time they were able to set aside.”
“They were really good at going, ‘I can’t do this but I can do this,’ and to have everybody work on the same team is something I’ve never really experienced before, and it’ll be very hard to top. The sheer amount of teamwork is very humbling.”
After debuting to nearly sold-out shows last week, Elf the Musical continues its holiday run at the North Peace Cultural Centre this week, Dec. 8, 9, and 10. Shows begin at 7 p.m., with tickets available at the NPCC box office.
“You don't come and see the movie, you come and see the movie brought to life, which is really fun,” says Sloan.
“The five-year-old will laugh, the 85-year-old will laugh, and everyone in between will as well.”