Sheffield Teachers Operatic Society show Elf the Musical comes to Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
and live on Freeview channel 276
Sheffield Teachers Operatic, known as STOS, is a local group made of people from all walks of life. Their ambitious shows have become a firm favourite with city audiences.
The show has been almost a year in the making, said director Mark Harris, whose Covid precautions have included casting two actors in the lead roles. He’s also held auditions and rehearsals on Zoom to ensure everyone stays safe.
The musical is based on the 2003 film starring Will Farrell. Mark said: “The whole premise is the same. They’ve had to modify the storyline slightly because of the way it could be done on stage, rather than with the editing and clever effects on film.
“Buddy gets accidentally taken away by Santa as a baby and is raised as an elf at the North Pole. He finds out he is human and goes back to New York to find his dad.”
The group grabbed the chance to do their first show in two years when it came up as it makes a perfect festive offering.
There are two Buddys and two Jovies – Buddy’s love interest – and two young actors playing Buddy’s little brother, Michael. Mark said they will each do three performances.
Preparation work for the show started back in January, then the cast began rehearsals in May, starting off on Zoom to stay socially distanced.
"We had to be really flexible,” Mark said. “Everything kept changing.”
Real-life families in lead roles
He also cast members’ children in crowd scenes to give the show a real family feel.
“I love having kids in the show,” said Mark. “I’m on the board of trustees as we are a registered charity and my role is youth development.
"I love the fact that the kids are involved. When we grow older, there’s a younger cohort to keep it all going.”
There are real-life family members in leading roles as well – one Buddy and Jovie are played by married couple Richard and Kaite Granger and another couple, Steve and Debbie Mather, play Mr and Mrs Santa Claus.
Mum and son Louise and Oliver Walker play Michael and his mum Emily.
The cast numbers 50, including the children, but the whole group will only be on stage together for the finale, said Mark.
The cost of the show is around £115,000 – “It's one of those shows where you have to throw everything at it to get those effects and to make it look right for the families and especially the kids in the audience,” said Mark.
“It’s going to be very sparkly, very bright and very family friendly, it’s got so much production values thrown at it.”
Mark said the songs in the show are very memorable: “They’re like earworms – once you get one of those songs in your head, you won’t get them out. There’s one called Sparklejollytwinklejingley - all one word like Supercalifragilistic – which is when Buddy is trying to get the staff at Macy’s store to enjoy putting up the Christmas decorations.”
How can you get tickets for Elf the Musical?
Elf the Musical is Mark’s third musical at the Lyceum as director and he’s also directed shows for the group at the Montgomery Theatre, as well as working with Ellesmere Operatic Society and Croft House Theatre Company.
However, STOS is where his heart lies. Mark said: “For me, really STOS is my home. I joined 27 years ago and I’ve been in every show from 1995 to now.
"To be involved at that level and continue to put on fantastic shows for the community does it for me. I love the shows, the people, performing and now directing.”
Mark described the show: "It’s two and a quarter hours of pure escapism, pure joy. It’s just a laugh a minute from start to finish. come to see the guys playing iconic roles everyone knows and loves.
"It’s going to be a riot from start to finish!”
Elf the Musical runs from November 16 to 20 at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield. To book tickets, go online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk, call 0114 249 6000 or visit the box office in person.