ELF is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. Buddy is raised unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. From DSM Website.
Click through for our special interviews with Santa and Emily from Elf The Musical!
Elf The Musical is in Dallas at Fair Park, December 8th through the 20th. The Broadway production, based on the hit film, began in November of 2010 and ran until Jan 2nd of 2011. There are tours across the US and now across the pond at London's West End!
Here is our interviews with Santa (Ken Clement) & Emily (Gabrielle Mirabella)
Santa – Ken Clement
Interview w/ Santa.
1. As veteran of the ELF world as Santa – what are some of your fondest memories of the previous tours and performances?
Understandably there are so many. My first year we played the Kennedy Center in Washington DC which was a dream for me. Last year we played the historic Curan Theater in San Francisco where my dressing room, I was awed to discover, had been used by such Theatre Icons as Ingrid Bergman, the Lunts, Melville Cooper, Hugh Jackman, Idina Menzel, Carol Channing, Stockard Channing, Mercedes McCambridge, Al Pacino, Brian Dennehy, James Earl Jones, Estelle Parsons, Jack Lemmon, Leslie Uggams, Paxton Whitehead, Joel Grey, Mickey Rooney, Ann Miller, Marcel Marceau, Matthew Broderick, Agnes Moorehead, Werner Klemperer, Ricardo Montalban, the Smothers Brothers, Patti LaBelle, Victor Garber, Sally Ann Howe, Richard Kiley, Mae West, Angela Lansbury, Florence Henderson, Ian McKellen, Richard Taylor, Rex Harrison, Katharine Hepburn, Mary Martin, and Lenny Bruce! (And dozens of others that there just isn’t room enough to print!)
As I write this we are just opened in Atlanta at the historic Fox Theater!
As for individual performances there are many, many stories. One of my favorite happened a few cities ago. Towards the end of the play, Buddy the Elf is explaining what he’s discovered while on his quest about the true meaning of Christmas. One of his lines talks about Christmas being about “kissing your girlfriend for the first time under a big glittery Christmas tree.” Some youngster in the front row editorialized with an audible “Ewwww” and it stopped the show as the actors onstage fought to keep straight faces.
2. What can we expect from this incarnation of the production and what is the Sam Scalamoni experience like?
As with all the incarnations of this show I’ve been involved in I think the audience can certainly expect to enjoy themselves. This is my third tour with ‘Elf’ and I find the differences remarkable. Sam our Director isn’t interested in pumping out a cookie cutter reproduction of the show the previous year. Even with the same costumes, props, sets and whatnot, every tour has been very different. Sam is does a wonderful job incorporating each individual actor’s contribution into the final product. As a Director, Sam is an actor’s dream. He comes into the process with a strong vision of what he wants and what he wants to see but has always remained open to what an actor might bring to the show. I’ve enjoyed working with and for Sam over these last few years and look forward to someday working with him outside of ‘Elf’.
3. How much do you borrow from the great Ed Asner as ELF's version of Santa in the film?
My Santa certainly has some of Ed Asner’s Santa’s gruffness to him but since Santa’s role in the story has been expanded for the musical I’ve had to introduce other elements. I think my Santa is equal parts Ed Asner, Wilfred Brimley, Wallace Beery, and Alan Hale Jr. He’s gruff but loveable.
4. What has changed over the years for your performance as Santa?
Most of my job in ‘Elf’ is as Catskills-esque warm-up comedian at the top of each act. Santa acts as Storyteller and I get to talk directly to the audiences. I try to tailor each show to the specific cities’ audience by including local or inside jokes. What has changed most for me is my comfort with the material and my ease alone out there in front of a large audience. There’s nothing more wonderful than an ad-lib that makes 4000 people laugh.
5. I loved Oliver the musical and your role as Bumble was wonderful, what are some of your fondest memories of that tour?
That’s tough. The National Tour of ‘Oliver!’ lived up to its Dickensian origins in that it was ‘the best of times, and the worst of times’. It was a lot of hard work and being my first tour I made every mistake you can make. I loved the show however and made some wonderful friends. We played some beautiful theaters and brought this wonderful show to thousands and thousands of people who may have only experienced the movie version. Cameron Mackintosh was incredibly nice and the show really was superb.
6. I really loved the Mitch Glazer's Magic City on Starz. What was it like working on the episode, "The Sins of The Father"? What was it like getting to work with talented TV and Theatre director David Petrarca?
Geez, of all the things on my resume… My involvement on ‘Magic City’ took less time than it did to type on my resume! I had been up for half a dozen parts for the show’s two seasons but never managed to land one. When it was announced that the show wouldn’t be returning, the casting director basically forced me into a little part. I had a couple of lines that got cut down to one line then cut down to one word! I think I had one exchange with David when he told me which chair to sit in!
7. How has Atlanta been so far?
Atlanta has been really great. Good southern food, fantastic audiences, and I got to buy groceries at a Publix. (The rest of the country has no idea what their missing out on with Publix subs!)
8. What can Dallas audiences look forward to from ELF?
You can look forward to a fun, sweet show. Get ready to laugh.
9. Who is your favorite actor to play Santa in film, tv or on the stage (not including yourself of course.)?
Tim Allen’s Santa is so much fun, but I’m always drawn in by Richard Attenborough in the remake of ‘Miracle on 34th Street. I also love Alex Baldwin in the animated movie ‘Rise of the Guardians’.
Emily – Gabrielle Mirabella
Interview with Emily
1. I loved you as Tanya in Mamma Mia and I'd love to know some of your fondest moments/memories from that wonderful national touring experience.
I can honestly say that performing in Dallas with Mamma Mia was a personal highlight of the tour. It was a special stop for us not only because it was the last stop of the year but because of the immensely gracious hospitality we were shown in our two week stay! It was the perfect way to end a year of touring.
2. What attracted you to ELF and what can we expect from your performance as Emily?
What attracted me to ELF is a lot of what attracted me to Mamma Mia. Everyone coming to the show is there for a good time and over half of the audience has already seen it! I had never seen the stage production of Elf before starting the tour but we have been watching the movie religiously in my family every since it came out.
My performance as Emily reminds me of so many strong women I've known or played on stage. A woman who is balancing her own career, her work-distracted husband and a young son. The best part of Emily is discovering her transformation every performance, from jaded New Yorker to full-on Santa believer by the end of the show.
3. How much do you look at the great Mary Steenburgen's performance as Emily in the film for inspiration/influence into your on stage performance?
The fact that I get to play the same role as Mary Steenburgen is inspiration enough! The role of Emily is a little more present in the stage version than in the film. Instead of smaller supporting roles, the characters of Emily and her son Michael are fully realized on stage, which makes for some beautiful Mother-Son songs and moments.
4. You're known for such a strong soprano voice, how much is utilized in the role of Emily compared to the heavy singing in Mamma Mia?
The singing in Elf is a little different from the ABBA I was used to with Mamma Mia! Much more of a Broadway-style singing. My favorite song that I get to sing in the show is, "There is a Santa Claus!" which is sung with the actor playing my son Michael. The best part of the song is getting to really stop the show with big Broadway belting, along side a truly remarkable young singer (Harper Brady and Nicky Torchia)!
5. You have great timing with your comedic punches and I am curious who are some comedians that you like or admire?
I grew up watching a lot of old movies and TV, mostly comedy. At a young age I discovered that I've always been drawn to the sardonic, witty and dry-humored leading females. Elaine Stritch, Bebe Neuwirth, Wendie Malick…the entire cast of Frasier. When it comes to today's comediennes; Tina Fey, Amy Sedaris and Kristin Wiig take the cake!
6. What TV Shows, Books, films have caught your attention amongst your touring schedule? What do you like to do in your free time?
I'm an avid reader of all things! I was never good at focusing on just one subject at a time in school (besides theater) except for the fact that I loved to read. I love learning about a subject I know little to nothing about, it's like discovering a new piece of the world that was under your nose the whole time. My biggest advice to young performers is to try read everything, including current events. Read the newspaper daily, it will help you in the most surprising of places.
7. What most excites you about coming to Dallas?
Well, besides being back in the fantastic Music Hall and working with some of the most talented and generous backstage people I've met on tour…being in Texas! There's a great feeling you get in Dallas, lots of smiles.
8. What can our Dallas audiences expect from ELF?
You can expect to leave in the Christmas spirit if you haven't already! You can also expect top notch singing and dancing from our spectacular ensemble, a lovely story line within the Hobbs' family and a genuine, enthusiastic and remarkable performance out of Daniel Patrick Smith who plays Buddy the elf himself!
For more information on ELF THE MUSICAL at DALLAS SUMMER MUSICALS please go, here.