Elf the Musical is sure to make you feel Sparklejollytwinklejingley this Christmas.
Sunderland lad Ben Forster is a festive force to be reckoned with in this musical version of the 2003 film.
Since winning ITV’s Superstar in 2012, the actor has been much in demand, jumping from leading role to leading role in one smash hit show to another, and he shines as bright as ever in his latest endeavour.
The role of Buddy the elf, portrayed by Will Ferrell in the film, is one that requires non-stop high-octane energy and an unwavering enthusiasm for life and all things festive.
After all, Buddy was raised by elves in the North Pole after he crawled into Santa’s toy sack while he was visiting an orphanage one Christmas Eve.
After learning he’s human, he sets off for New York City to find his birth father Walter Hobbs (Joe McGann).
Forster is simply phenomenal in the role. His boundless energy and child-like innocence is instantly lovable. You can’t help but feel joyous watching him bounce around the stage, doing his bit to spread Christmas cheer, and seeing him get excited about the arrival of Santa in a New York department store.
He really made the role his own as well, this isn’t a copy of Ferrell’s movie performance – Forster is his own elf.
He plays wonderfully opposite McGann as the surly workaholic children’s book publisher and naughty list member.
Walter, his wife Emily (Jessica Martin) and their son Michael (Noah Key) aren’t exactly thrilled by his sudden arrival but are soon won round by this infectious Yuletide spirit.
Despite delivering toys each year, Santa (Mark McKerracher) is left in trouble when people stop believing in him and his sleigh – that runs purely on Christmas spirit – crashes in New York.
It falls to Buddy to help Santa fly again, while also trying to win round love interest Jovie (Kimberley Walsh).
The Girls Aloud star has a great voice and her renditions of A Christmas Song and Never Fall In Love (with an Elf) were pleasant enough, but her performance in the show is overshadowed by some supporting cast members.
Jennie Dale is hilarious as Walter’s assistant Deb and Graham Lappin makes a huge impression as the manager of the toy store where Buddy accidentally ends up working.
The ensemble do a fantastic job, filling in the roles of elves in Santa’s workshop and department store Santas.
The show is packed with big musical numbers and memorable songs like Sparklejollytwinklejingley, The Story of Buddy and World’s Greatest Dad.
Emily and Michael’s I’ll Believe In You is touching and Nobody Cares About Santa, which reveals the show’s darker side, is brilliant.
The show builds and builds to a fantastic ending, where Santa’s sleigh flies out across the audience and it begins to snow inside the theatre.
The Grinch himself would have clapped and cheered as the actors took their bows.
The show is bright, colourful, and packed to the rafters with Christmas cheer. The second it started, a huge grin spread across my face and it never left.
While it is a bit of a trek from the North East to London’s West End, you definitely wouldn’t regret making the journey for this show.
Elf The Musical runs at the Dominion Theatre, London, until January 2, next year. Click here to book tickets.