Eph theater buffs have just two months to jump in their sleighs and hustle to the Al Hirschfeld Theater to catch Sebastian Arcelus ’99, filling Will Ferrell’s oversized shoes as the lead in Elf: The Musical. The Broadway adaptation of the 2003 comedy* also features George Wendt from Cheers.
This is the highest profile role yet for Arcelus, whose rising career on Broadway has been largely overlooked by EphBlog. Arcelus has spent much of the last year as Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys, following a successful stint in the touring company of Wicked. (Arcelus is married to fellow Wicked star Stephanie Block, who played originated the lead role of Elphaba. Elphaba, meet Elf).*
Previews are underway, with the full opening set for November 14. As a holiday show, Elf has a limited run — it’s scheduled to close on January 2. So New Yorkers, hustle up and get your tickets and let EphBlog know how awesome it is.
Broadway.com has posted an interview with Arcelus. Highlights below the fold.
Broadway.com’s Michael Mellini: What’s the biggest challenge in playing a character like Buddy?
Sebastian Arcelus ’99: I’m a pretty positive guy, but when you tackle a role like this you wonder where you’re going to find the energy to maintain that level of earnestness and joy. It can be exhausting, but I find when you tap into heightening your normal human reactions to things, it’s much more freeing than you would think. Sometimes I’ll leave the show having a great time being positive and joyous, and I’ll go home and bring it with me. My wife will say, “OK you’re giving me Buddy the Elf right now. I think you need to take it down a notch.” [Laughs.]
Mellini: Buddy wears some pretty bright elf tights. How’s that working out for you?
Arcelus: There’s a certain amount of trepidation going in when you have to throw on tights and a green furry outfit, but I will say that once I had them on it was bizarrely comfortable! . . .
Mellini: You [and your wife] shared the stage in Wicked as Elphaba and Fiyero. Are there any other shows you’d like to appear in together?
Arcelus: I would jump at the opportunity to do anything with her. This is going to sound cheesy, but she is totally my idol. As far as any particular show to do together…well, why doesn’t someone write one for us! Right now I’m just enjoying being in life with her, but Wicked was a blast. When we got married we were going overseas but decided to go to City Hall to make it official before leaving. So we got married, had dinner together and then went to perform Wicked together as a married couple. It doesn’t get better than that.
Read the full interview here.
*Although I’m usually a Will Ferrell fan, I thought the film version missed the mark, so I hope for Arcelus’s sake, setting it to music will be an improvement. For those of you who missed this holiday “classic” (I’m sure it must fit within AMC’s revised definition, but so does “Wild Wild West”), Elf tells the story of a boy who stows away in Santa’s toy bag and ends up back at the North Pole to be raised as Buddy the Elf. When he outgrows Toyland (and his cookie-baking, toy-making, and shoemaking skills prove subpar), he’s sent to New York to discover himself – and try foods other than licorice, candy, and candy-canes. Watching the movie, I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: every scene felt like the 235th time I’d seen it — but it was only the first viewing.
Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly identified Block as having “originated” the role of Elphaba. According to Wikipedia, Block “read the part of Elphaba in the first reading,” but was replaced by Idina Menzel after a “decision that had been made to cast a more experienced performer.” Ultimately, she starred as Elphaba in the first national touring company.