'Elf the Musical' opens Friday at the Lyric Theatre

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Several members of the cast of “Elf The Musical” complete one of their songs during a dress rehearsal of this year’s Christmas show presented by the Lyric Theatre in downtown Brownwood. The production, based on the movie of the same name and featuring Matthew McNiece (on ladder) as Buddy the Elf, opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Featuring music, dancing and high-energy comedy, "Elf the Musical" opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Lyric Theatre in Brownwood.

Additional shows this weekend will be at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Four more performances are scheduled Dec. 10-12. The musical, sponsored by the Wells Team-Keller Williams Realty, is directed by Billie Harvey. Tickets are available at www.brownwoodlyrictheatre.com, and they cost $20 for adults and $15 for students. This is the last show included in 2021 Patron packages.

"It's based off of the movie," Harvey said of the play, referring to the 2003 movie in which Will Ferrell played the childlike Buddy. "There are a few differences with some characterization, but for the most part it's the movie. It is definitely a comedy but there are some sweet, sad moments. It's a good mixture of new Broadway and old, golden age Broadway. The authors and lyricists and composers have done a good job of harkening to the old days but also having the new."

In the storyline, Buddy Hobbs, a young orphan child, mistakenly crawls into Santa Claus' bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. After discovering the baby, Santa and his elves decide to raise the child as an elf. Years later, Buddy finds out that he's actually a human being and, at Santa's prompting, heads off to New York City in search of his father, Walter Hobbs, the website rottentomatoes.com explains.

Faced with the harsh reality that Walter is on the naughty list and his son, Michael, doesn't even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his birth family and help New York City remember the true meaning of Christmas.

The cast of the Lyric production includes Matthew McNiece (Buddy), Jonathan Harvey (Walter), Jill Underwood (Emily), Joy Renee Blackstock (Jovie), Abby Diaz (Michael), Frank Nelson (Santa), Maggie Yantis (Deb), Stephen Haynes (Mr. Greenway), Jake Bowren (Charlie), Edward Yantis (fake Santa), Paul Underwood (Chadwick), Torri Choate (Tiara), Shannon Turner (Sam), Cayla Furry (Mrs. Claus) and Jen Evetts (security officer).

"We definitely had a challenge at the beginning because, due to shipping issues, we did not get our scripts for a little bit, so we were trying to do what we could rehearsal wise without scripts," Harvey said. "We got creative."

Harvey said several family groups are part of the cast, as well as first-time performers on the stage.

"It's been really having fun," Harvey said. "We've got a mom and her two kids, we've got a father and a daughter, we've got husbands and wives. We've got a lot of cool little groupings of familial units. This is the first time I've worked with almost everyone in this cast in this stance. I've always been a director of students. It's definitely been a learning curve for everybody, with me usually doing educational theatre and now I'm moving to doing a predominately adult show, and how you parlay your directing style to people who are not in a school setting."

Harvey, who is in her first year as assistant principal at Bangs High School, previously worked as the theatre director at the school.