SALT LAKE CITY, UT— Pioneer Theatre Company (PTC) presents Elf The Musical, December 3 through December 18, 2021. When last produced at PTC, Elf The Musical became the theatre’s most popular holiday production of all time.
The holiday musical took Broadway by storm when it premiered. Based on the 2003 film of the same name it quickly became a Christmas classic. It’s an evening of entertainment for the whole family that the New York Post called “a bonafide treat.”
Guest director ALAN MURAOKA leads this production. Muraoka, an actor and director, is best known to audiences as the owner of Hooper’s Store on the children’s educational series Sesame Street. He took over Hooper’s Store in 1998, and juggles directing with other acting opportunities.
Leading the cast is MAX CHERNIN as Buddy the Elf, the endearing, over-sized elf who loves Christmas and leaves the North Pole to find his real father when he learns he is not an elf after all. Chernin is a New York-based actor and was last seen at PTC in the cast of Bright Star. His Broadway roles include Bright Star and Sunday in the Park with George. Other New York credits include Bernstein’s Mass (Lincoln Center), The Golden Apple (City Center Encores!), Brooklynite (Vineyard), and Skittles Commercial: The Musical (Town Hall).
Jovie, the jaded shop girl with whom Buddy falls in love, is played by ANTOINETTE COMER in her PTC debut. Comer had her Broadway debut in Mamma Mia! She’s toured nationally with Broadway tours for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Dreamgirls, and Mamma Mia!
CHRISTOPHER GURR plays Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s absent, and often angry, father who learns about Christmas all over again. Gurr has been seen in many Broadway casts including Cats (revival), Tuck Everlasting, Kinky Boots, Amazing Grace, and All The Way with Bryan Cranston. His national tours include Memphis and Monty Python’s Spamalot.
Salt Lake City-based actor MARY FANNING DRIGGS plays Walter’s wife, Emily Hobbs, who takes pity on Buddy. This is Drigg’s 23rd PTC production, having appeared, in among others, Mamma Mia!, Sting’s The Last Ship, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Once.
Veteran Equity actor JASON SIMON plays the role of Santa Claus. Simon has been seen in Broadway’s Sister Act and in Lincoln Center’s NY Philharmonic production of Show Boat. In addition to many national tours like The Producers, Cats, and Funny Girl, Simon has appeared on TV in “Bull,” “Spongebob Squarepants,” “White Collar,” and more.
DAVID BAIDA, HOWARD KAYE, and CARLITA VICTORIA play the over-worked Macy’s store manager; Greenway (Walter Hobb’s boss); and Deb, Walter’s under-appreciated secretary. Baida was in the original Broadway cast and first national touring cast of On Your Feet! He was Piragua Guy in the first national tour of In The Heights, including performances at the Kennedy Center alongside Anthony Ramos and Vanessa Hudgens. Kaye returns to PTC for his fifth production which includes Peter and the Starcatcher, It Happened One Christmas, Oliver!, and The Music Man. Kaye performed on Broadway in Miss Saigon. Victoria’s previous roles include Hairspray, In The Heights, Jesus Christ Superstar, Kinky Boots, Glee Project Promo, The Color Purple, Dreamgirls, Little Shop Of Horrors, and Rock Of Ages.
AUSTIN FLAMM and GRANT WESTCOTT will alternate the role of Buddy’s younger brother, Michael Hobbs, and that of Charlie, one of the elves. Flamm and Westcott are both making their PTC debuts.
The remaining members of the Equity company are KYLE CARESS, DANIELLE DECRETTE, ELYSE NIEDEREE, DENNIS O’BANNION and JESSE SWIMM.
The rest of the cast includes: T ANTHONY, DANNY BORBA, ASHLEN BORESOW, KIMI HANDA BROWN, KATIE CALDERONE, JORDAN CRUZ, ABBY HOPE DAVIS, KELSIE ENGEN, ELIZABETH FALK, SERENA KOZUSKO, MICKI MARTINEZ, ANNIE MAUTZ, JONATHAN ONYANGO, ARIA SAGE, AATHAVEN THARMARAJAH, and ANNA UHL.
In addition to his 23-year tenure at Sesame Street, ALAN MURAOKA has also directed productions of The Nice List (World Premiere Virtual Musical), Avenue Q, The Report, and Kung Fu. Regionally, he recently directed Gold Mountain for the Utah Shakespeare Festival. As an actor, Muraoka has performed in seven shows on Broadway, including Miss Saigon, The King and I, and Aladdin.
Choreographer ROMMY SANDHU has served as Associate Director, Choreographer, and Dance Captain to Tony Award-winning director/ choreographers Kathleen Marshall, Susan Stroman, and Matthew Bourne, including recent collaborations on The Unsinkable Molly Brown (The Transport Group) and Little Shop of Horrors (New York City Center Encores!). Named “Choreographer to Watch,” by DanceBreak Foundation, his directing and choreography credits include How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (The Maltz-Jupiter Theatre), Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Tuacahn), and Singing In The Rain (The MUNY).
TOM GRIFFIN is the show’s musical director/conductor and returns to PTC after many productions including Once On This Island, Oliver!, It Happened One Christmas, Peter & The Starcatcher, Elf The Musical (2013), and A Christmas Carol: The Musical. Other notable productions include 13 – The Musical, the West Coast and Los Angeles premieres of The Last Five Years, Sweet Charity, Sweeney Todd… and The Music Man; West Coast premiere of Spitfire Grill; Annie, West Side Story, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Bye Bye Birdie; the national tour of My Fair Lady for Theatre Of The Stars; and Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s productions of Disney’s Mary Poppins, A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Peter Pan, and A Christmas Memory.
Scenic design is by JIM KRONZER. His credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional productions of Sweeney Todd…, All The Way, and A Prayer for Owen Meany. He designed scenery for Disney Cruise Lines Twice Charmed and has shows running on twelve ships on the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet. Additionally, Kronzer has designed for over 250 stand-up TV comedy series for HBO, Comedy Central, Showtime, and Netflix.
K.L. ALBERTS designs costumes for this production. This is his 34th season at Pioneer Theatre Company, including designs for The Play That Goes Wrong, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Uncle Vanya, Little Shop of Horrors, and Les Misérables. Alberts has also designed for Utah Shakespeare Festival, including Ah! Wilderness, The Matchmaker, Big River, and Guys and Dolls.
Lighting design is by CHRISTINA WATANABE, an award-winning designer and educator for theatre, dance, music, and events. Selected New York credits include Lincoln Center, The Public, WP Theatre, EST, Primary Stages, Cherry Lane, 59E59, HERE, and New Ohio. Watanabe is also on the faculty of Webster University.
Sound Designer AARON HUBBARD and Hair and Make-up Designer SAMANTHA WOOTTEN both design for this production.