Elf makes western Montana debut at MCT

Buddy brings his sparkle-jolly-twinkle to Missoula Nov. 29-Dec. 16

On Stage
Elf the Musical
Tim Shonkwiler is poised to play Buddy in Missoula Community Theatre’s production.

Buddy the Elf and his infectious sparkle-jolly-twinkle-jingly spirit of Christmas will be live on stage this season as the Missoula Community Theatre presents “Elf the Musical,” Nov. 29-Dec. 16 at MCT Center for the Performing Arts.

The musical, making its western Montana debut, is based on the 2003 film “Elf,” starring Will Ferrell. After finding out he’s human and not an elf, Buddy leaves the North Pole and seeks out his real father, Walter Hobbs. While Buddy has absolutely no inkling on how to contain his gigantically joyous Christmas spirit, Walter is a bah-hum-bugging modern-day Scrooge.

The movie has become a holiday classic, yet, MCT artistic director Joesph Martinez had the rare treat of reading the script for “Elf the Musical” without having seen the movie. Although the script is laugh-out-loud funny and includes an excellent score, Martinez most loved the depth of the characters.

They “weren’t just a venue for silly, over-the-top comedy,” he says. Instead, the well-crafted story has all the compelling elements for thoroughly engaging an audience: “a focus on family, believing, and belonging.”

Martinez is ecstatic that MCT is one of the first theatres to receive the rights to produce this show. He’s thrilled “that the first time our community will see ‘Elf the Musical’ on stage will be our production.”

He’s also enjoying the process of helping the talented cast create their characters “without becoming caricatures.” Audiences may recognize Tim Shonkwiler (Adolpho in “The Drowsy Chaperone”) as Buddy, and Royce McIntosh (Sam in “Mamma Mia!”) as Walter Hobbs.

Whether or not the movie is already part the family’s holiday tradition, Martinez believes that experiencing this hilariously merry story live is probably one of the best gifts you can give or get this Christmas.

Show times for “Elf the Musical” are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 29-Dec. 16 at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available at MCTinc.org; by calling 406-728-PLAY(7529); or at the MCT Box Office, which is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.