Santa! I know him!
Elf the musical makes Christmas holly and jolly at The Saenger
When it comes to Christmas movies, the amount that exist are endless. But, in the midst of the “White Christmas” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” sits a well-loved and well-known Christmas movie from the 21st century. Will Ferrell’s iconic portrayal of Buddy the Elf in director Jon Favreau’s 2003 movie “Elf,” I believe, will forever stand the test of Christmas movie time.
It’s hard to imagine how something so classic and with so many quotable lines – “Buddy the Elf! What’s your favorite color?” “He’s an angry elf.” “I love smiling! Smilings my favorite!” to name a few – could easily transfer over into a musical. At least, that was my fear after seeing how “White Christmas” missed the mark from screen to stage, in my opinion.
When I heard the musical was set to hit the Saenger stage this year, I was intrigued. Would it hold the same magic and humor that Ferrel, James Caan and Bob Newhart delivered on the screen?
After chatting with Galyana Castillo, who plays Walter Hobb’s faithful – and cheerful – secretary Deb, who said she truly enjoys every moment on stage, I thought it just might.
Kelly Massicot: What can you tell us about “Elf the Musical?"
Galyana Castillo: You know, it's great. Because, the show has a song that perfectly wraps it up in a bow, and it's the story of Buddy the elf, who grows up in the North Pole thinking that he is an elf, when he is in fact a human, and when he finds out that he is a human, he goes off on an adventure to find his dad in New York City. Hilarity ensues in all of that, in finding his dad.
KM: Is it difficult being part of a show that had such a following before in a movie? And now you have to create this new way of telling the story.
GS: For me, it's not as difficult, because I don't have the classic lines that everyone looks forward to. But, I don't find that it's difficult, because while the show does follow the basic plot of the film, it still has a unique twist on it. Especially with the musical aspects of it. You just dive more into the heart of Christmas. As long as you can accept the joy of Christmas, it's easy to slide right into the show, and not feel too pressured to be like the movie. However, that being said, we still have those classic lines that everyone will recognize. The narwhal, and the sugar cane bit. The elf diet, if you will.
It's still there, the essence of the movie is there, but I would say just with a little more Christmas cheer.
KM: Is it something fun for the whole family?
GS: Absolutely, it's hilarious, it's got something for everyone. The parents are not left out. There's plenty of humor for them, but the kids also take plenty … there's gag moments and crashes and elves and bright colors. It's really a great show for the entire family.
KM: If you can pick a favorite, what would be your favorite part of being a part of this musical in the National Tour?
GS: Oh, my Gosh. I laugh my head off, every single night. My part is really just so great, because I just get to laugh my head off. Genuinely, I am laughing from my gut. Because, the things that happen on the stage are just so funny. Our actors are just so brilliant in coming up with these funny moments and making it fresh every night, so I don't have to pretend laugh.
KM: What’s your favorite part of the whole show?
GS: I get pushed on stage by two strapping young men on a desk with a martini glass, and sing about it. It's great.
KM: And do you have a favorite song?
GS: Yes. It's actually that same song. The song is called "Just like him," and it's all about Buddy is talking about how he wants to be just like his dad, you know? It's also his discovery of the quote, unquote "snow." Which, is just shredded paper. I'm trying to entertain him, his dad's like, please, I have so much work to do. I'm like, hey, why don't we make some shredded snow? And the whole song is a big old office party. Everyone was reluctant to join in, but by the end everyone is dancing and throwing shredded paper everywhere. Yeah, it's great. It's a great moment.
KM: You’re traveling all over with this show, but have you ever been to New Orleans?
GS: My last tour, I got to go to New Orleans for two hours. It was our lunch break. Normally, we're only given an hour for the lunch break, but because we were stopping in New Orleans, our company manager was kind enough to let us stay for two hours. I sure enough ran around that city like it was the last time I'd ever be there.
I was late to the bus call, I texted my company manager and I said, "I'm in line at Café Du Monde, and I will be getting coffee and beignets, and yes, I will be 15 minutes late, because I'm not getting out of this line."
KM: Is there anything new this time, since you'll be here for a little bit longer, that you're looking forward to?
GS: I'm so looking forward to walking around and really soaking in the history of New Orleans, and really soaking in the culture. I'd love to visit the museums, and I'm just excited to soak it in, rather than running around the city trying to take everything in.
I just wanted to take pictures and pictures and pictures and pictures, because the architecture is beautiful in New Orleans. I'm just excited to just soak that in this time. Now that I'll be there for a week, as opposed to two hours.
“Elf the Musical” can be seen at The Saenger through Dec. 23. Visit neworleans.broadway.com for more information.