The Music Hall and Ogunquit Playhouse are building the North Pole and Manhattan from the ground up to get people into the holiday spirit in Portsmouth.
“Elf the Musical,” based on the 2003 comedy film starring Will Ferrell as a wide-eyed optimist in elf’s clothing, will get two previews at the historic hall at 28 Chestnut St. – 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, and Thursday, Nov. 29 — before officially opening Friday, Nov. 30, and run through Sunday, Dec. 16.
“Elf the Musical” is the tale of a young child named Buddy who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. Unaware he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities force him to eventually face the truth about his lineage.
After getting Santa’s permission, the grown-up yet childlike Buddy travels to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity and help people remember the meaning of Christmas.
Bradford Kenney is Ogunquit (Maine) Playhouse’s executive artistic director. He said the set for “Elf The Musical” was custom designed for The Music Hall and is being built from the ground up specifically for this year’s holiday show.
Broadway actors will take on adult roles, while a rotating cast of about 30 local children ages 7 to 10 also will participate, adding some magic to the production.
“It makes it more special for us,” Kenney said about having children in the cast.
And nothing beats live musical theater, where performances change depending on reactions from the crowd, Kenney said.
“There’s something supreme about that live interaction between the audience and performers,” Kenney said.
Monte Bohanan is the director of marketing and communications at The Music Hall. He said the level of holiday shows produced by Kenney and his team in recent years is off the charts. Last year the venues collaborated on the lush “White Christmas,” based on the iconic 1950s holiday movie that starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
“The stage magic they are able to pull off in our space astonishes me, and I have worked here 20 years,” Bohanan said.
Preview shows are scheduled for Nov. 28 and 29. Opening night is Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
The show will run until Dec. 16 with evening performances and matinees. Tickets are $45 to $67.
Group rates are available. For information, visit themusichall.org.