Elf The Musical reviews ★★★

Elf The Musical has opened at the Dominion Theatre in London, and here’s a round-up for reviews from the critics.

The show started its run on 14 November, and is playing for a strictly limited 8 week season at the Dominion Theatre until 7 January 2023.

Based on the much-loved movie starring Will Ferrell, the stage musical has a book by Tony Award-winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone), with songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer).

Elf The Musical stars Simon Lipkin as Buddy, Georgina Castle as Jovie, Tom Chambers as Walter Hobbs, Rebecca Lock as Emily Hobbs, Kim Ismay as Debs, Nicholas Pound as Santa and Dermot Canavan as Store Manager.

The show is directed by Philip Wm. McKinley, with original set and costume design by Tim Goodchild, choreography by Liam Steel, lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe, sound by Gareth Owen, video design by Ian William Galloway, wig and hair design by Richard Mawbey, and casting by Grindrod Burton Casting.

More reviews to follow.

Book tickets to Elf The Musical at the Dominion Theatre in London

Average Critics Rating
★★★

Elf The Musical reviews

Daily Mail
★★★★

"Who needs Will Ferrell? This show is a real cracker"

"Verdict: Slick festive fun"

"The 2003 film Elf is an established seasonal favourite and, inevitably, audiences will have Will Ferrell lodged in their heads when they think of Santa's hapless 'little' helper Buddy. Thankfully, Simon Lipkin in Elf The Musical overcomes any comparisons (and a dreadful wig) to make a convincing lead."

"Philip McKinley's classy revival — the scenes in Macy's look particularly gorgeous in Tim Goodchild's design — has some rousing song-and-dance numbers"

"There are a couple of lulls and some of the gags are for adults only — have fun on the way home explaining to your wee ones how Buddy's 'special hug, twice!' for Jovie (Georgina Castle) resulted in a little Buddy — but the message that we all need to believe in the true meaning of Christmas shines through."

Veronica Lee, Daily Mail
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The Guardian
★★

"Buddy’s back with some syrupy showtunes"

"Choreographed candy cane twirling and funny moments from the Will Ferrell film don’t save this show from being a bland corporate Christmas experience"

"Son of a nutcracker, what did they do to Elf? Back for a second stint in the West End, this musical version of the effervescent Will Ferrell film is an often flat night out. Despite some appealing performances and a tight candy-cane-twirling ensemble, it comes close to the blandly corporate Christmas experience it sets out to satirise and doesn’t muster a lot more joy than the kind of department store grotto in its story."

"The eccentric spirit of that set design by Tim Goodchild is not matched by composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin’s songs, mostly vanilla diversions and syrupy ballads, whose humour never matches the original screenplay."

"If the storytelling never feels fleet-footed, there are some amusing moments, mostly taken straight from the movie."

"With a hero devoted to bringing Christmas cheer by “singing loud for all to hear” this musical could have been a sweet festive treat but is altogether too stodgy."

Chris Wiegand, The Guardian
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The Evening Standard
★★

"Not good for the elf"

"A disappointing start to London’s Christmas theatre season"

"This is an Elf warning: Elf the Musical isn’t very good. It jettisons most of what is sly and subtle about the sublime 2003 Christmas film on which it’s based, in favour of sappy sentiment and bland songs."

"Writers Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin offer a pale imitation of the story written for the screen by David Berenbaum and directed by Jon Favreau, rather than convincingly reimagining Elf for the stage."

"Lipkin has bags of energy and wide-eyed zest but also a disturbingly Trumpish dollop of sculpted orange hair. Buddy’s attempts to connect to his irascible publisher dad (Tom Chambers, wooden) and his stepmom and stepbrother are skimpy and lacking in pathos."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Times
★★★

"A functional family Christmas treat"

"... functional family seasonal treats on this scale don’t grow on Christmas trees. And, within its terms, Philip William McKinley’s production does a good job. It’s professional, propulsive, well played."

"If Simon Lipkin as Buddy the Elf is almost too close physically to Will Ferrell, star of the film, he is a skilful clown and an accomplished song-and-dance man. Only Ferrell, though, can do that overgrown-kid routine and keep the character free of suspicions of mental illness rather than disarming naivety. And, to be fair, Rebecca Lock (terrific) as his new stepmother Emily asks that very question of the boobyishly bumptious Buddy..."

"Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin’s effervescent book strips out some nuance from the screenplay. Still, it’s gently amusing and easy to consume as Buddy capers clumsily around his new home."

"This is no night out for unaccompanied adults, but there is skill and finally heart to this fitfully funny spectacular."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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The Stage
★★★

"Riot of colour, comedy and magic"

"Infectiously upbeat musical adaptation of the Will Ferrell movie"

"... this revival of the show, directed by Philip Wm McKinley, delivers its Christmas cheer with the vehemence of a Broadway belt."

"It’s best to take the show as a stand-alone piece, packed with infectious musical numbers and, thanks to choreographer Liam Steel, plenty of lively dance routines. Matthew Sklar’s punchy score is an unrelenting musical sugar rush. It could benefit from a few gentler, more introspective numbers – everything here is full-throttle."

"As Buddy, Simon Lipkin faces a huge challenge to match the wide-eyed innocence of Ferrell’s titular elf – but he pulls it off with skill and dexterity."

"The charm of Tim Goodchild’s set design is sadly diminished by some disappointing video animation, but otherwise, the show is a riot of colour, comedy and Christmas magic. Devotees of the movie might disagree, but as a seasonal family show it hits all the right notes."

Paul Vale, The Stage
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TimeOut
★★★★

"The stage adaptation of the beloved Will Ferrell film bounds joyously back into town"

"This show lives or dies depending on its Buddy. Thankfully, Simon Lipkin knocks it out of the park. There are shades of Will Ferrell in his performance, but he brings an innocence that feels distinct. He tempers what could easily be an annoyingly consistent optimism with some killer line deliveries. He never descends into saccharine."

"Philip Wm McKinley’s production is a fast-paced, Tim Burton-esque visual feast, full of exaggerated angles, art deco stylings and slick projections. There are throwaway references to modern tech – and some jarringly attempts to crowbar in some British-isms – but this is really a fantasia. It whirls you up in a Technicolor dream of Christmas, with Liam Steel’s choreography rarely giving you time for breath."

Tom Wicker, TimeOut
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📷 Main photo: The cast of Elf The Musical - Dominion Theatre. Photo: Mark Senior


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Elf The Musical

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