In an era when most events have been canceled or postponed indefinitely, a local theatre company conceived of a socially distanced approach to presenting a Christmas musical for the community.
“Elf the Musical, Jr.” can be purchased to stream the performances of 14 locals aged 7-15, the week of Christmas. Based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, and Zooey Deschanel, it features music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin and a book by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan.
This one-hour story begins at the North Pole, where Santa reveals to Buddy the Elf that he has been a human all along. His quest to find his father in New York City is the source of many humorous and ultimately heart-warming scenarios.
Though the cast was limited to 14 participants, many other community members have become involved in the process. Long-time local children’s music teacher Leslie Kowalski recruited experienced twins Marley and Waylon Yerxa to perform the roles of Michael Hobbs and Buddy, the eponymous elf. Their parents, Brad and Audra Yerxa, have drawn and even held some backdrops for filming. Elementary educators James and Victoria Gier have coached and filmed their 7-year-old son, Oliver, in his role as Santa. A couple of frequent theatre patrons paid for the participation of young Las Crucens that they hoped would be involved.
It is largely cost prohibitive to produce musicals online during this time because they are not generating much streaming sales. Therefore, there was a nominal tuition charged to pay for the royalties of the production. There are numerous other obstacles as well.
“Though I’ve been teaching online exclusively for over two years,” “Elf, Jr.” director Megan McQueen said, “the process of creating art almost entirely within an online platform is challenging for all of us. I teach the kids and the kids teach me. I’ve even been working on musicals via Zoom with artists across the country since May. One of the biggest obstacles is the horrible sound quality, so luckily Sam Tyson has helped us remedy that,” she said.
Tyson has spearheaded the solution to most of the lighting, sound or set-design challenges Scaffolding Theatre Company has faced since its first production in 2014, McQueen said. He brought seven high-quality microphones for use in the “Elf, Jr.” production so each child could use his or her own, along with a sound board to mix with and hundreds of feet of cable to socially distance seven children at a time in a back yard while recording the vocals.
Streaming access is available for purchase for Dec. 19, 20 and 24. Access is good for 48 hours after purchase on those dates. It is available for $10 via ShowTix4U.com. To purchase tickets, search there or go to scaffoldingtheatrecompany.com/elf-the-musical-jr.html.
For more information, contact McQueen at 575-644-7136 and firstname.lastname@example.org.