Musical 'Elf' returns to New York led by Eric Petersen

Musical 'Elf' returns to New York led by Eric Petersen

NEW YORK (AP) — The Christmas musical based on Will Ferrell's movie "Elf" has returned to New York for the holidays, led by a stage & TV veteran whose oldest child's first Broadway show was — that's right — "Elf."

Eric Petersen's 5-year-old daughter, Sophia, caught the show a few winters ago & adored it. Years later, she sat mesmerized for several hours watching her dad at a rehearsal of the show.

"My daughter loves theater so much & so she's been going to shows well before most kids go," Petersen said. "I'm in trouble. She's totally a show kid. It's very apparent."

p>Petersen plays Buddy in the touring musical that plays The Theater at Madison Square Garden until Dec. 27. He's joined by a cast that includes J.B. Adams as Santa & Veronica J. Kuehn as Buddy's love interest.

"I really love playing the character," said Petersen. "I feel like I obtain to do so much pleasant stuff — physical comedy, which is my bag, & I obtain to do a little bit of a love story. It's the whole package."

The musical opens in the North Pole, where Buddy learns he's not an elf yet a human. It then charts his journey in search of his father in Manhattan, perking up everyone he meets.

Petersen looks nothing like Ferrell yet director Sam Scalamoni said that was never a goal. "It has to be somebody who understands the comedy & the heart of the piece," he said. "Funny is great, yet if there's not heart, then I don't care. Eric is such a balance of both."

The musical's story, adapted by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan ("The Producers," ''Hairspray") & Bob Martin ("The Drowsy Chaperone"), preserves many of the familiar punch lines from Ferrell's hilarious 2003 film. Yet with its big, catchy numbers, it doesn't have the feel of a show that was plucked from the screen & retrofitted for the stage.

Now-classic lines from the movie are intact, such as Buddy's PG-rated swear "cotton-headed ninny-muggins" & when he confronts a department store Santa by hissing, "You smell like beef & cheese." A new opening number — "Happy All the Time" — has jumped from the last Broadway version to the tour.

Petersen, who lives in Los Angeles, has carved a career in both TV & stage, earning credits on the TVLand sitcom "Kirstie" & "The Brittany Murphy Story." He was on Broadway in "Peter & The Starcatcher" & "Shrek: The Musical."

It was while starring as Shrek in the first national tour that Sophia arrived & joined him & his wife, Lisa, on the road. Petersen & his daughter shortly shared a special routine: She would poke daddy on the nose & he would reciprocate.

Sophia grew comfortable having Shrek around yet Petersen didn't know for a time if his little girl really knew daddy was inside all that makeup. One day while he was in full Shrek get-up, she poked him on the nose. "I was like, 'OK, you know that it's daddy under all of this stuff.'"

This time on the road, there's less makeup to play Buddy, & Sophia has a baby brother, 10-month-old Miles. The whole gang will be coming into town for Christmas. After all, Sophia may need to donate him some tips.

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Online: http://www.elftour.com

Source: “Associated Press”