If you’re looking for a family-friendly holiday outing, The Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET) FUN Company’s “My Father the Elf” tops the list. Written by Matt Lee and directed by Julie Herber, this original production is a joyous experience of magic, laughter, and truth. As Herber explains, the show is “a great, mad-cap holiday play for those who may have grown a bit tired of the usual Rudolph, Frosty, or Charlie Brown option.”
…a joyous experience of magic, laughter, and truth.
After discovering that her father (Vikram Kolluru) is one of Santa’s elves with the code name “Holly,” it’s up to Lorrie (Karli Cole) to save the holidays from Kris Kringle (Joe Waeyaert), a chaos-loving warlock who wants to destroy holiday cheer.
Young audiences will relate to Lorrie’s hopes and fears about being on Santa’s naughty-or-nice list. They will also make real-life connections through Lorries’ descriptions of her classmates, teachers, and mistakes. While the play is geared toward children ages 5-12, parents will enjoy the realism of Holly’s parenting and work struggles.
The play’s cast of five deserved a shout-out for their commitment to their roles. Children in the audience were so enthralled that they shouted encouragement and warnings to the actors throughout the show.
Cole did an excellent job portraying eight-year-old Lorrie, whose energy and spirit drive the show. Kolluru made a charming father and elf, while Emily Raines completed the family as Lorrie’s mother. She also doubled as the gingerbread-making wonder, Ms. Claus. Tim Seltzer balanced Mistletoe (an elf-turned-bad) and Santa Claus so well that the children may not have realized he played both roles. Joseph Waeyeart created three characters (Kris Kringle, Dreidel, and Hedvig), each of whom made an impact.
To bring the show to life, Maryland Ensemble Theatre transformed its stage into a winter wonderland. Joann Foltz and Reed Simiele’s combined set and lighting efforts created sparkly icicles and a clever set of moveable icebergs to transport audience members to the Arctic. These two also joined forces to bring elfin and warlock magic to the stage in some ways that, like Lorrie, you’ll need to see to believe.
Costume designer Rachel Smith did a wonderful job of dressing each character in Christmas finery that fit their jobs in Santa’s elfin crew or as human “mortals.” Kris Kringle’s magic crown and staff gave extra power to his villainy. Sound cues were delivered on time and effectively, thanks to Lauren Johnson’s work.
“My Father the Elf” is a warm mix of holiday themes topped with modern twists. Kids are invited to sit at the front of the stage and interact with Lorrie before the show; Santa’s elves use smartphone GPS to deliver presents on the big night; and elfin conflicts are settled through dance battles. When Lorrie and her family make it safely home, everyone learns that Christmas is more than the presents, everyone can be forgiven, and it is important to be good.
Running Time: Approximately one hour with no intermission.
“My Father the Elf” runs through December 17, 2023 at Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET), 31 West Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21701. For more information and to purchase tickets, go online.