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L.A. Beat

New West and the Enmax Centre celebrate Christmas with Elf: The Musical

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If you love modern Christmas classic Elf  the movie, then don’t miss  Elf: the Musical, a co-production with the Enmax Centre and New West Theatre.

 The show is already close to sold out until Christmas. It opens on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Scott Carpenter and Kevin Owen Clarke star in Elf: the Musical. Photo by Richard Amery


 The core cast of 19 including a children’s ensemble is the largest New West Theatre has worked with and includes a lot of familiar faces from New West Theatre as well as other familiar faces from the Lethbridge  theatre scene.


“The cast 99 per cent local,” enthused director Kelly Reay, noting there are a couple familiar faces returning like  Kevin Owen Clarke who returns to New West Theatre from Toronto  to  plays Will Ferrell’s character  Buddy . He was also part of New West Theatre productions “Next To Normal” and “The Million Dollar Quartet.”


“ I’ve always wanted to play Buddy the elf, so when the chance came to do it , I jumped at it,” said Clarke, who tapped into his own natural  joie de vivre to match Buddy’s manic energy.

“I hope the show will help people re-find that childlike enthusiasm about Christmas,” Clarke continued.


“ It feels so good to be asked back to play Buddy,” said Clarke who enjoyed being part of  his other two New West shows.

“ It feels beautiful and very natural,” said New West Theatre veteran Scott Carpenter, who grew his beard out to play Santa Claus.

“Elf is such a beloved modern Christmas classic. Our tickets are selling so quickly because people love this show, people love this story. We hope to expand that tradition and create a new one,” said New West Theatre artistic director Kelly Reay, adding it won’t replace their usual music comedy revues they usually hold  in December.

“ It’s good to know people are open to seeing something different,”  Reay continued, noting this production cost twice as much as their usual productions.

The cast and crew have been working at this production for  a long time.


“ Everybody’s been putting in 12 hour days for three weeks. They’re really dedicated.  And we have been building the set since the summer It’s been going very well,” Reay said.

The show features  a crack three piece band including Kathy Zaborsky, who is still creating background music for the show plus drummer Keenan Pezderic and bassist Scott Mezei are creating the soundtrack to the show.

Reay said New West has been planning this production  for five years.

“We had the pandemic in the middle ,” Reay said.

“ This is the type of show people want to see with the way  the world is now. People  like familiar and comfortable. It’s escapism, it’s the type of show we need right now,” Reay said.

“ It’s been hectic, but everyone has been doing a great job. It’s been a real pleasure working with everybody,” he said, adding the community really came out  to support New West Theatre, since announcing last year that they were having financial  troubles and put out a call to aid to “Save Our Stage.”


“We had a very successful year. We’re on strong financial footing now. We’re thankful to the community for all of their efforts,” he said.

“ Elf is a fun show. The rights have been available  for a while. A lot of theatre companies are doing the show. It’s a very popular.  The public is ready for a show that is pure unadulterated fun and celebratory,” he said , adding  the plot  is very close to the plot of the movie.


Kevin Owen Clarke performs in Elf: The Musical. Photo by Richard Amery

“ But there’s a lot more music in this show,” he said.

 Alexa Elser returns to New West Theatre  from Calgary, where she has been living for the past eight years to play Buddy’s paramour “ Jovi.”

“Kelly and I have been talking for quite a while about  working on another project,” said Elser, who last worked with  New West and Reay on  their 2019 production of a Canadian play about cyber bullying“ Girls Like That.”  Elser has also performed at the 2016 SOAR Festival with the Allied Arts Council and was part of  New West Theatre’s 2016 music comedy revue “Heatwave.” 


“ We’ve got a nice  e-mail friendship,” said Elser, who jumped at the chance to play Zooey Deschanel’s  character “Jovie.”


“ I’ve seen the movie like 25 times, but didn't want it to inform my choices. So I haven’t watched it since I was cast, though it my have subliminally affected my performance. I love Zooey  Deschanel. People say I look like her,” Elser said.


Kevin Owen Clarke performs in Elf: The Musical. Photo by Richard Amery

 “ I also have Jovie’s attitude about Christmas until like Dec. 20,” she laughed.


“ I’m  excited to be back. I have a lot of friends who are coming to the show and my family is here. So it’s exciting to perform for them,” she said.


“ It’s lovely to be back,” she said.


“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing  loud for all to hear,” Elser quoted from the movie.


 Elf : the Musical is almost sold out until Christmas.


The show runs at 7:30 p.m.  Dec. 14-31 except on Sundays and Mondays.

 Tickets are available  though the Enmax Centre or by calling 403-329 SEAT (7328).

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor

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