Click the play button above to hear Joseph Whelan, director of marketing and communications at Syracuse Stage, discuss the theater’s holiday production of “Elf the Musical.”
Audio transcript: PJ CLARK ELF THE MUSICAL WRAP 12.3.18
By PJ Clark SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Syracuse Stage is doing its best to spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear.
“Elf the Musical” officially began its six-week run at Syracuse Stage on November 30. According to Director of Marketing and Communications Joseph Whelan, the theater usually tries to incorporate a family-oriented musical for the holiday season.
“Not always, but mostly musicals. In recent years, we’ve also done ‘A Christmas Carol’ multiple times,” said Whelan. “It’s not always a holiday musical, I mean, it’s a family-style musical, so last year it was ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It will vary, but if we could do something connected to the holidays, we’d like to, but if not, just something families could come to.”
The holiday show often draws larger crowds than the standard production at Syracuse Stage. Whelan said the theater sees similarities between the year-to-year holiday audiences.
“We know that there are people who come just for the holiday show, the musical,” he said. “The number of people who are ‘new-to-file,’ people who haven’t been here before, or haven’t been here in a long time, also increases for this show.”
As for “Elf the Musical,” the show has seemingly been a hit. Whelan was impressed with how well the show has been doing at the box office.
“It’s been going great. We have a six-week run, and I just checked in the box office, I think we have about 400 tickets unsold,” he said. “So, it has done really well in terms of how it has performed at the box office.”
While the production only opened at the end of last week, Whelan said the show has been very well received.
“The only review that has come out so far has been glowing,” said Whelan. “We’ve been getting really positive feedback from audiences, the company has been getting standing ovations every night at curtain call. It’s been hitting on all levels.”
When deciding on “Elf the Musical” for this season’s holiday show, Syracuse Stage had to factor in more than just what audiences would like to see.
“It’s the one show every year where Syracuse Stage partners with the [Syracuse University] Drama Department,” said Whelan. “So, we’re looking for something that would be good for the drama students to participate in, and that they could contribute to.”
Drama students at Syracuse University have ample opportunities to work on the technical side of shows at the Syracuse Stage, but Whelan said the holiday show is where the performers get their chance to shine.
“The co-production of the holiday musical is in many ways the pinnacle of the partnership,” he said. “Many students participate, they’re in the cast, they go through the whole rehearsal process and work with professional actors and a professional director. They get the full experience.”
Audiences will have a chance to see Buddy the Elf pass through the seven levels of the “Candy Cane Forest” on his way to New York City until “Elf the Musical” ends its run at Syracuse Stage on January 6, 2019.