Chrissy Maldonado plays Jovie and Adam Conrad plays Buddy in Beaumont Community Players’ “Elf: The Musical,” Dec. 2-18. Photo by Andy Coughlan

Christmas can be a tough time of the year for the cynic, where one is bombarded with ads putting the emphasis on consumerism. But for Buddy the elf, Christmas is a time of boundless enthusiasm and joy.

Some of that enthusiasm is bound to rub off on even the most hardened heart during Beaumont Community Players’ production of “Elf: The Musical,” which opens today and runs through Dec. 18.

Adam Conrad plays Buddy, a human who has been raised in the North Pole believing he is an elf, despite dwarfing the others in Santa’s workshop. A long-time drama teacher at Vidor High School, this is Conrad’s first time on stage on more than a decade.

“Honestly, what made me try for it (was) because I know I’m getting to the age where I’m about to have to play father roles and I wanted to play something super fun one more time before I get too many wrinkles on my face,” he said.

Chrissy Maldonado plays Jovie and Adam Conrad plays Buddy in Beaumont Community Players’ “Elf: The Musical,” Dec. 2-18. Photo by Andy Coughlan

Buddy is a great character, Conrad said, because it is a chance to explore his naivete.

“And the way he looks at the world from eyes that haven’t been through the pitfalls of life,” he said.

Chrissy Maldonado plays Jovie, who works at Macy’s where Buddy gets a job. A music teacher at Fehl-Price Classical Academy, where she teaches K through 5th grade, Maldonado is also returning to the stage after a long absence.

“I love that Jovi is a little bit cynical, and she’s real,” Maldonado said. “And yet, by the end of the show, she falls in love not just with Buddy, but also the magic of Christmas. I love that it balances the reality of her character with the fantasy of buddy’s character.”

Director Bryan Brassard said “Elf” is just a great Christmas movie, and when he saw the musical version at the Lutcher Theatre a few years ago he thought it would be a great show for BCP.

“People know the storyline, people know about the characters, they don’t have to come and learn about anybody new,” Brassard said.

“Elf” is not only a family show, but it also has a cast of all ages.

“When I originally thought about it, I was thinking about not really having any kids in it,” Brassard said. “However, I thought about it, and I was like, ‘You know what, it’s a perfect opportunity to make them elves in the show because there is a part in the show where they’re in Santa’s workshop.

The challenges of working with children is outweighed by the positives, Brassard said.

“The challenges of it are, you have to give everything — they’re learning,” he said. “So, you want to help teach them the craft of acting and the craft of staging and blocking, and sometimes they don’t know what stage right is or they don’t know what stage left is, so that’s a challenge.

“But having kids in it is actually good because they want to please, want to do what you ask. They don’t have any, “Oh, I should do it this way, or I should do it this way or anything like that. They’re willing, they want to do it how you want it, and they’re just resilient.”

Maldonado said “Elf” is popular because the story is beautiful.

“I think it’s a really neat combination of the magic of Christmas and the fun and the child-likeness of it with the reality that, for a lot of people, Christmas is hard,” she said. “We look at Buddy’s family and they’re going through it and dad is balancing work and life, and Jovie is angry, and she’s been through stuff. But then there’s this crazy guy who’s an elf from the North Pole. I think it’s beautiful for people to be able to come and in a lighthearted way struggle with the realities of the holiday season.”

Surrounded by Santa’s elves, Chrissy Maldonado plays Jovie and Adam Conrad plays Buddy in Beaumont Community Players’ “Elf: The Musical,” Dec. 2-18. Photo by Andy Coughlan

Brassard said it’s a great way to start the Christmas season.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You’ll love the music. It’s happy. It’s got a good story. It’s a good ending and it just leaves you excited for the Christmas season that is upon us. Sometimes we get bogged down with presents and family coming over and sometimes you need a laugh.”

Conrad’s last words could have come from Buddy himself.

“It is a fun cheesy Christmas story that will just make your heart warm,” he said.

Showtimes for “Elf: The Musical” are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2,3, 8, 10, 16 and 17 and 2 p.m. Dec. 10 and 18.

BCP is located at 4155 Laurel Ave. in Beaumont. For tickets, visit beaumontstages.com.

This story first ran in the Dec. 2, 2022, Art of Living section of the Beaumont Enterprise.

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