Elf: initial casting announced

Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures in association with Unique Features have announced that the new Broadway musical Elf will star Tony Award winner Beth Leavel (Emily), Tony Award nominee Mark Jacoby (Walter), Matthew Gumley (Michael), Valerie Wright (Deb), Michael McCormick (Mr. Greenway), Michael Mandell (Store Manager) and six-time Emmy Award winner George Wendt (Santa). Full casting, including the lead roles of 'Buddy' and 'Jovie,' will be announced shortly.

The company will also include Timothy J. Alex, Callie Carter, Cara Cooper, Lisa Gadja, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Blake Hammond, Emily Hsu, Jenny Hill, Nancy Johnston, Marc Kessler, Matt Loehr, Lee Wilkins and Kirsten Wyatt.

The new family musical Elf, will arrive on Broadway for the winter holidays, will now open at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on 14 Nov 2010, and not the 10 Nov as originally announced. The show will still begin previews from 2 Nov and end its limited engagement on 2 Jan 2011 as first scheduled.

Based on the 2003 New Line Cinema movie which starred Will Ferrell in the title role, Elf will feature music by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar ('Music') and Chad Beguelin ('The Wedding Singer'), with a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan ('The Producers,' 'Hairspray') and Bob Martin ('The Drowsy Chaperone'). Elf will be directed and choreographed by Tony nominee Casey Nicholaw ('The Drowsy Chaperone,' 'Monty Python's Spamalot').

Elf tells the tale of 'Buddy,' a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Buddy is raised unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa's permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity.

Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and his step-brother doesn't even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. The musical is based on the 2003 New Line Cinema film 'Elf,' which starred Will Ferrell as 'Buddy.'

Both Beth Leavel and George Wendt will reprise the roles they played in a 'full production' reading of the musical in Dec 2009 that was also directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. It is not known if Christian Anderson, who played Buddy (the big elf - Will Farrell's character in the movie) at the 2009 Dec reading, will be cast in that role for Broadway.

Scenic design for Elf is by Tony-nominee David Rockwell (Hairspray, Legally Blonde), costume design is by Tony Award winner Gregg Barnes (The Drowsy Chaperone, Legally Blonde), lighting design is by two-time Tony Award-winner Natasha Katz (Aida, The Coast of Utopia) and sound design is by Tony nominee Peter Hylenski (Rock of Ages, Lend Me a Tenor). The show will feature orchestrations by three-time Tony Award-winner Doug Besterman (The Producers, Thoroughly Modern Millie).


Beth Leavel (Emily) is currently starring on Broadway as 'Donna Sheridan' in 'Mamma Mia!' She received a Tony award for her title role in 'The Drowsy Chaperone.' Other Broadway credits include 'Young Frankenstein,'' 42nd Street' original and revival casts, 'Crazy for You' original cast, 'The Civil War,' Hal Prince's 'Show Boat.' Leavel recently starred in 'Into the Woods' (Pittsburgh CLO), 'Annie' (The Muny - St. Louis) and the world premiere of 'Minsky's' (Ahmanson Theatre - Los Angeles). TV: "Ryan's Hope," Nickelodeon, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," the final episode of "ER," ABC's "The Unusuals."

Mark Jacoby (Walter) was nominated for a Tony for his role as 'Gaylord Ravenal' in the 1994 Broadway revival of 'Show Boat.' Other Broadway credits include 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Man of La Mancha,' 'Ragtime' (Broadway premiere), 'Grand Hotel,' 'The Phantom of the Opera' and 'Sweet Charity.' Off-Broadway credits incude: 'The Playwright' and 'Enter the Guardsmen.'

Matthew Gumley's (Michael) Broadway credits: 'Addams Family' (Original Broadway Cast), 'Mary Poppins' (Original Broadway Cast) and 'Beauty and the Beast' (Chip). Off-Broadway: 'Distracted' (Roundabout, starring alongside Cynthia Nixon). Film: Artie Lang's "Beer League" and upcoming "Summer Child." TV: "Law & Order: SVU," "Drake and Josh," "Dora The Explorer" (voice of Benny the Bull, regular), "The Wonder Pets (recurring)," and "All My Children."

Valerie Wright (Deb) has originated the Broadway companies of 'Song And Dance,' 'Steel Pier' and 'Annie Get Your Gun.' Other Broadway credits include 'Cats,' 'Sally Marr And Her Escorts' and 'Damn Yankees.' Off Broadway includes 'Showing Off,' 'The World Goes 'Round' and 'Wanda's World.' National Tours include 'Hello Dolly,' 'Song And Dance,' 'The World Goes 'Round' (Jefferson award, Helen Hayes nomination) and 'Damn Yankees' (Helen Hayes nomination). Films and TV includes "Sleepless In Seattle," "Ordinary Heroes," "You Look Just Like Him" and "All My Children."

Michael Mccormick's (Mr. Greenway) Broadway credits: 'Curtains' (Oscar Shapiro), 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas,' 'The Pajama Game,' 'Kiss Me Kate' (1st Gangster), '1776' (John Adams), Sam Mendes' 'Gypsy,' 'Marie Christine,' 'Kiss of the Spider Woman,' 'La Bete' and 'Oliver.'Recent Off-B'way credits include 'Tin Pan Alley Rag' (Roundabout) and 'A Man of No Importance' (LTC). Recent TV: all three of the "Law & Order" series, "Candide." Film: "The Producers," and "A Very Serious Person."

Michael Mandell (Store Manager). National tour: 'It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues.' Off-Broadway: 'Macinal,' 'Blood Wedding' and 'Romance in Hard Times' (NYSF), 'Fables in Slang' (Melting Pot), 'Hit the Lights' (Vineyard Theatre) and 'A New Brain' (Lincoln Center Theatre). Reginonal credits: 'Captains Courageous' (Ford Theatre), 'Miss Ever's Boys' (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), 'Twist' (Walnut Street Theater), 'Triumph of Love' (Cleveland Playhouse), 'The Fantastiks' (Portland Center Stage), 'Amadeus' (Denver Theater Center), 'The Boys from Syracuse' (Alliance Theater) and 'The Boys Next Door' (Philadelphia Drama Guild). TV includes "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," "Ed," "Law & Order: SVU," "Ugly Betty" and "Guiding Light." Film includes "I Love You Philip Morris," "Choose," "Come Away with Me," "Joe's Apartment" and "Anger Management."

George Wendt (Santa) is best known to television audiences as "Norm Peterson" from "Cheers." The role earned Wendt six Emmy nominations. George began his career with The Second City, Chicago's famed improvisational company. His feature film credits include "Forever Young," "Guilty by Suspicion," "Fletch," "Gung Ho," "Rupert's Land" and "Outside Providence." Wendt recently starred in the national tour of 'Twelve Angry Men' and starred in London's West End and on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning musical 'Hairspray' (as Edna) and the Tony Award-winning play 'Art.' He appeared in 'Minsky's' at the Ahmanson in Los Angeles, where he first worked with book writer Bob Martin and director Casey Nicholaw. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed stage production of David Mamet's 'Lakeboat,' which was directed by Joe Mantegna, and frequently performs onstage in New York, Los Angeles and his native Chicago. In the summer of 1989, Wendt traveled to the USSR to portray the title role of 'Oblomov' in a BBC adaptation of Ivan Goncharov's novel.

Originally published on

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