SPROUTS Theatre for Children presents ‘Elf the Musical, Jr.’

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — especially if you’re an elf named Buddy.

The Community Theatre League ushers in the holiday season with “Elf the Musical, Jr.” The SPROUTS Theatre for Children production opens Friday, with 7:30 p.m. performances on Friday and Saturday and Dec. 15-16. In addition to the regularly scheduled 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 17, the popularity of the show has prompted an extra staging at 2 p.m. on Dec. 16.

Based upon the popular film, “Elf the Musical, Jr.” tells the tale of Buddy, a young orphan who, having mistakenly crawled into Santa’s bag, ends up at the North Pole.

After being adopted as an elf, Buddy eventually realizes due to his size and poor toy-making abilities that he is not an elf — but a human.

With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity.

When he finds out his father is on Santa’s naughty list, and that his half brother doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New Yorkers to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

“Elf the Musical, Jr.” is co-directed by husband and wife Steve and Brandy Aguirre.

Both shared responsibilities in terms of choreography and blocking, which was “definitely a team effort,” noted Brandy Aguirre. “Steve took on the role of giving ‘acting direction’ to the kids along with the staging aspects, though I handled all the music aspects on my own.”

The large cast is comprised of kids and teens ages 8 through 15, and features many elves and dozens of colorful characters, and a separate ensemble.

The co-directors point out that Junior shows are catered specifically to younger casts, so some cuts are made for length and content.

“Elf the Musical, Jr.” has only 11 musical numbers while the full version of the show contains 18 songs.

Some verses are cut from numbers, dance breaks are shortened and harmonies are simplified into unison or two part rather than the traditional four part (or more) chorus of a full show ensemble.

While Junior productions are sometimes looked upon as simply the “bare bones” of the original musical, both Steve and Brandy Aguirre are quick to emphasize that this production of “Elf the Musical, Jr.” fully “captures the heart and spirit of the full show and the film on which it is based.”

And for an additional cost, children 12 and under (parents and older children are admitted free), can attend a North Pole Party on the Community Academy of Stage and Theatre’s (CAST) third floor prior to each performance.

Kids can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy treats from Santa’s Sweet shop, while visiting with Buddy the Elf and his friends for extra fun, including making their own special mix of Christmas Eve reindeer food and a coloring contest.

One printed photo with Santa will be available for pickup in the lobby following the performance of “Elf the Musical, Jr”.

For more information, contact the Community Theatre League at 570-327-1777 or visit www.ctlshows.com.