‘Elf on the Shelf’ gets a musical stopping at Fox Theatre Dec. 5

An image from the original "Elf on the Shelf" musical from 2019. The version touring in 2021 is very similar, with just a few technical tweaks. LUMISTELLA
caption arrowCaption
An image from the original "Elf on the Shelf" musical from 2019. The version touring in 2021 is very similar, with just a few technical tweaks. LUMISTELLA

Credit: LUMISTELLA

Credit: LUMISTELLA

Created by a Marietta family, the brand now includes TV shows, cereal, board games.

“Elf on the Shelf,” which began as a book 16 years ago from a Marietta family tradition that went back decades, is now a firm part of Christmas tradition. Millions of elves now sit on shelves around the world.

And the brand is bringing its musical to the stage Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Fox Theatre as part of a multi-city run. Tickets range from $29 to $69.95 and seats are still available.

This is the musical’s second year after taking 2020 off due to the pandemic. The 2019 tour stopped at the smaller Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

“For so many children, family shows are the first live theater they see,” said Sara Wordsworth, a New York-based musical theatre writer and mom of an 8-year-old. She wrote the script and lyrics in collaboration with composer Russ Caplan. “They lost a couple of years of that. I was at opening night in Pennsylvania and it was so moving to see those kids who haven’t been able to sit in a big theater, have school assemblies or school trips. I could feel the energy. You can’t replicate being in a live theater.”

Lumistella, the Atlanta-based company that runs “Elf on the Shelf,” started the entire tradition with a book and an elf and has since expanded into animated TV specials, branded cereal, advent calendars and board games, to name a few. They are working with Netflix on more projects.

For this musical, they collaborated with Mills Entertainment, which has worked with everyone from Chevy Chase to William Shatner for live theater shows.

Christa Pitts, co-chief executive officer with her twin sister Chanda Bell, said the story focuses on a Scout Elf learning how to work with a family at the North Pole, then being sent to live with one: “Ultimately, it’s a story about being mindful about the season and how it represents thoughtfulness and kindness.”

She is thrilled to see the show Sunday at the Fox Theatre. Her first experience there, she said, was when she was 16 and saw “Phantom of the Opera.”

Wordsworth said the creators had designed a rich world that she was able to shape into a musical.

“They had a sound to this world, to their version of the North Pole,” she said. “Capturing that musically was really fun to do.” She developed big-band sounds for the North Pole scenes because “that just feels like an old-fashioned positive family Christmas. You’ll hear a lot of sleigh bells, tap dancing and joyful big choreography.”

She said she watched a lot of classic Christmas movies like “White Christmas” for inspiration.

The scenes with the family use more contemporary Broadway sounds, Woodsworth said: “It feels more real.”

The family has suffered loss and “they find light after a very dark time,” she said. “That story of finding faith in Christmas time and recreating traditions after a difficult time will resonate so much more with the audience now, especially the kids. Kids have felt a lot of the disruption.”


IF YOU GO

“Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical”

6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5. $29.95-$69. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. foxtheatre.org.

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