Musical theater group bringing Will Ferrell’s elf to Regina

Do It With Class Young People‘s Theater will present Elf the Musical at the Riddell Theater at the University of Regina next week.

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The Christmas spirit is getting harder and harder to find these days, but Reece Braaten can locate hers with the click of a TV remote.

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The Elf movie – highlighted by Will Ferrell as the lead role Buddy – has been inspirational as Braaten prepares to play Buddy’s love interest Jovie in an upcoming series of live performances by Do It With Class Young People’s Theater (Dec. 15-19 at the Riddell Theater, University of Regina).

“I have seen (the film) several times; it’s a classic, ”Braaten suggested. “Will Ferrell’s performance and the amount of energy he has at his disposal fits in so well with theater. The guy we have as Buddy the Elf (Dan Luzar) is hilarious and has so much energy, just like in the movie. This is my favorite part – the crazy energy.

Will Ferrell as Buddy (left) and Ed Asner as Santa Claus co-star in Elf in 2003.
Will Ferrell as Buddy (left) and Ed Asner as Santa Claus co-star in Elf in 2003. Postmedia Thread

Elf hit the big screen in November 2003 and became a Broadway musical in 2010. Along the way, it caught the attention of Robert Ursan, artistic director of Do It With Class (DIWC).

The Regina Musical Theater Group is proud to present the stage version of Elf in Saskatchewan for the first time.

“It follows the plot of the movie very closely, but of course, because it’s a musical, it has some really wonderful, fun and energetic musical numbers – singing and dancing,” Ursan said. “We have kids who are very experienced dancers, so it’s nice to be able to give them the opportunity to do things on stage. Also, one of the things I love about Do It With Class is that we take kids who love musicals. If they show enough of that passion and spark, no matter their skill level, because people can be educated.

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“We had a great time with this whole process. “

Matthew Schermann (Father Christmas) and Dan Luzar (Buddy) are part of Elf the Musical by Do It With Class Young People's Theater.
Matthew Schermann (Father Christmas) and Dan Luzar (Buddy) are part of Elf the Musical by Do It With Class Young People’s Theater. Photo by BRUCE VASSELIN / PHOTO CREATOR

After being limited to virtual shows during the COVID-19 pandemic, next week’s performances will mark the long-awaited return of live theater for DIWC.

The group’s last show in front of a live audience was Matilda in March 2020 – just before COVID’s initial shutdown.

“We all can’t wait to get back on stage,” said Braaten, who is in his fourth year with the company. “I think it will show in our performance with our energy and enthusiasm. (Being back in front of an audience) feels so much more real. We are going to find that real feeling of live theater. “

The musical will feature more than 40 performers between the ages of eight and 18. They have been rehearsing since September in anticipation of a triumphant return on stage.

“That’s what I live for,” Ursan said. “My rehearsals with the kids have been a really remarkable therapy after the past two years. There were still issues as to whether we would even be able to play when we started in the fall because the rules keep changing. Some of the kids said to me, “Even though we don’t do the show, just being able to be together again is so wonderful. I completely agree. There is no magic that can be produced the same way that a live theater can. There is something in the spontaneity of that.

Tickets for the first four shows sold out quickly, so DIWC added two more shows to the program. All six are now fully booked (four evening shows and two mornings), but the DIWC encourages people to call 306-993-1003 if they are forced to cancel or wish to be put on a wait list.

The company is also planning a performance of Peter Pan from March 16 to 19 at the U of R.

Based on the response so far, the lack of live theater over the past few months has made hearts sweeter – for audiences and performers alike.

“Due to the fact that COVID has taken so much out of people’s lives, this year we have quite a few young people in the business who are brand new,” Ursan added. “I love every second of being able to learn more about these new children and watching their talents grow.

“I think the audience will just fall in love with them.”

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