Saturday, December 1, 2018

Review: The Elves and the Schumachers at Theatre Nova

"It's the holiday season, which means it's that time of year when local theaters cash in by putting on some feel good holiday original.*" --Blue Fairy, The Elves and the Schumachers at Theatre Nova

The Elves and the Schumachers at is an original pantomime by Carla Milarch and R. MacKenzie Lewis. The story is about two lesser known elves, Elmo and Bobby, who help a family of toymakers, the Schumachers, and save Hanukkah. Elmo, played by Sarah Stevens, is a "a non-important brother of Elwë" from Middle Earth. Bobby, played by Elizabeth Jaffe, is the younger brother of Dobby, the house elf from Harry Potter. With the help of the blue fairy, played by Dan Morrison, they help save the Schumachers from evil mayor Antiochus Gawp, played by Dan Morrison. It's a pretty silly show and in the tradition of the pantomime, a lot of it is aimed at being entertaining for younger children. That said there is plenty of fun for the adults in the audience too.

I had never seen a pantomime before and The Elves and the Schumachers was a great introduction to the form. The show has many of the standard conventions of a pantomime including: An older woman played by a man in drag; risqué double entendre, often wringing innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases that is, in theory, over the heads of the children in the audience; audience participation, including calls of "He's behind you!" or "Look behind you!"; and music made from well-known tunes with re-written lyrics. This all makes for a very fun show. In particular, I think the way The Elves and the Schumachers gradually broke down the fourth wall and ramped up audience participation was a ton of fun for the children in the audience. After the show ended, I overheard an elementary-aged student say "I never want to leave the theater." Indeed, I informally interviewed a few kids after the show and they all said they had a good time and most thought their friends from school would like the show.

The Elves and the Schumachers features scene-chewing performances from Stevens, Jaffe, and Morrison. 20 minutes into the show, EJ's face hurt from laughing so hard. William Powers, a fifth grader at Haisley, plays Judah Schumacher. I think this is a really important element of the show because it gives the children watching it a real proxy for themselves. I think it also makes it so the kids who come up on stage at the end of the show more comfortable. The Elves and the Schumachers is a silly romp that kids and adults will enjoy.

The Elves and the Schumachers runs now through December 30th at the Yellow Barn. Shows are on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

*I don't remember the exact quote from the Blue Fairy, but this is the gist of it. I feel like it's a good framing device.

No comments:

Post a Comment