Palace Spreading Christmas Cheer

“Elf: The Musical” Now Playing

photos by Todd White

There is just something so magical about Christmas shows. It’s my favorite time of the year, and it evokes such feelings of nostalgia and happiness.

Stephen Quinn, Buddy’s father, Walter Hobbs

Decked out in an elf hat, Grinch sweater, and pointy green shoes during the Palace Theatre’s opening night of Elf: The Musical, attendee John Sterling reminisced about many childhood Christmases that revolved around the already-classic 2003 movie. “It was a family tradition,” he says. “We would watch different holiday movies on Christmas morning, but Elf was the staple. Getting to see it as an adult brings back much-needed Christmas wonder.”

“A hoot and a holler,” is how John describes Elf: The Musical, in which a young orphan named Buddy mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of toys and ends up being raised as an elf at the North Pole. When he discovers the truth of his identity, he embarks on a quest to find his birth father in New York City. Realizing his father is on the naughty list and his stepbrother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy becomes determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.


Full of Christmas spirit and energy on and off the stage, actor Nick Xitco found Buddy’s character to be the perfect fit. “I’ve always loved Christmas and the holidays since I was a little kid,” he says. “Playing Buddy has been such a joy. Anyone who knows me knows I’m full of whimsical energy just about all the time, so it’s been pretty easy to channel that energy into a character who basically is that.”

An equally energetic audience made the performance rewarding for Nick and the rest of the cast. “I think my favorite part was them clapping and cheering along to the overture and some of the other numbers. It gives us so much energy on stage, which we try to give right back to them!” he says.

“That was a huge encouragement after all the work we have put in. We finally shared what we created and saw the happiness it brought,” adds Lisa Harper, who plays Buddy’s stepmother, Emily Hobbs. Lisa says getting to do the show with her daughters, Lucy and Ella Grace, was an early Christmas gift. Lucy works backstage and Ella Grace plays Buddy’s love interest, Jovie. 


For Richard Cerato, directing and choreographing such a joyous, festive musical was an exciting adventure. “I’ve never laughed more during a rehearsal process than with Elf. We workshopped many brand-new additions to the musical, including fun sight gags, slick tap choreography, and larger-than-life props. This production is completely unique from any other, all the while paying tribute to the source material Elf film and honoring the iconic hero’s journey as we follow Buddy from the North Pole to midtown Manhattan,” he says.

As for why people should see Elf, Richard says, “Our Elf is overflowing with holiday magic. You’ll have to come and see it for yourself! We’ve had a ball in rehearsals. Now we’re excited to share the gift of Elf with our community!”

Elf: The Musical runs THROUGH December 30 at the Palace Theatre.
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