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Music of the Night bringing Elf to Antigonish

Musical director Brent Bannerman working with the cast of Elf; a Music of the Night production being staged in Antigonish Nov. 22 to 24, and Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.
Musical director Brent Bannerman working with the cast of Elf; a Music of the Night production being staged in Antigonish Nov. 22 to 24, and Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. - Richard MacKenzie
ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

“It’s Santa!”

Watching 6’3” actor Will Ferrell yell that line, at the top of his lungs, in his all-too-cheerful Buddy the Elf costume, is a highlight of the beloved Christmas movie, which was released in 2003.

The movie has become a holiday classic along the lines of It’s a Wonderful Life or animated favourites such as Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Elf’s popularity led to a musical version being created, which opened on Broadway in 2010, and now audiences will have the opportunity to see local community members staging the musical, thanks to the latest Music of the Night production.

Being directed by Jenn Priddle, with musical direction by Brent Bannerman and choreography by Liliona Quarmyne, it was noted the rights for amateur productions of Elf only came out this past July, and will only be available for a year and a half, which is why the Music of the Night team jumped on it so quickly.

“We are excited to do a holiday show in time for December,” they wrote in an email to the Casket. “Though the show is a Christmas story, it is also a story about families and priorities,” and “the music is incredible.”

Music of the Night is put on by the Dr. J.H. Gillis band parent’s auxiliary as a fundraiser for the program. It provides participants a high-quality musical theatre experience, at no cost to them, and involves folks of all ages. Children for this production are taking on the roles of North Pole elves.

The show too is for all ages. While the main roles are for adults, taken on by community members and St. F.X. students, the humour and storyline has multi-age appeal.

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The main role of Buddy the Elf is being played by Antigonish native Robert Murphy who has returned to Antigonish after doing stand-up and improv for 10 years in Toronto.

“I am a fan of the movie, it’s a Christmas time staple in my house; but I didn’t know too much about the musical, even though I saw it at Neptune,” Murphy said, taking a quick break from an Oct. 22 rehearsal. “I didn’t know it well, but I definitely know it now.”

He said there are a few alterations from the movie to the musical, but it’s just the right balance for pleasing hard-core fans of the film, while including a few surprises.

“Different enough that fans will enjoy and still have surprises,” Murphy said. “No one wants to come see a show and think ‘I could have watched that at home,’ so this will be a different experience all together.”

As for whether working on a Christmas story in October brings about the holiday spirit sooner than normal, Murphy said it happens, but doesn’t totally distract him for other important days on the calendar.

“I’m a huge Halloween fan, so I’m trying to not let it take away from that,” he said with a chuckle.

“But Christmas is a big deal in my house; it’s easy for the Christmas spirit to be contagious so it’s, totally, putting me in the Christmas spirit. I love that and I hope it happens for the audience as well. That’s our job, to make them feel the holiday spirit.”

As for the range of ages he is working with, Murphy said it’s another benefit of being in the production.

“I love the range of age and all the talent,” he said.

“It blows my mind how talented some of these kids are who are so young, I just can’t believe it. They’re going to be superstars when they get older; they already are in my view.”

Show dates and times are spread across the last two weekends in November, including Dec. 1.

They are; Nov. 22 at 7 p.m., Nov. 23 at 2 and 7 p.m., Nov. 24 at 2 p.m., Nov. 29 at 7 p.m., Nov. 30 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

Tickets will be available Nov. 4 at Antigonish 5 ¢ to $1 Store and Happenstance, and for more information, visit the Music of the Night, Antigonish Community Theatre Facebook page.

  

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