Elf the Musical: A Christmas Special Brought Here by TUTS

At 10 weeks old, Jessica Rush was on stage in a Beaumont-based production of Fiddler on the Roof. With a high school drama teaching dad and parents who met in the theater department at Lamar University, Rush says she was destined for theater. "That was what we did. Some people play sports and we did theater. There's nothing else I'd rather do."

Now, fresh from her Broadway performance in Jersey Boys, Orange, TX- native Jessica Rush in in Houston for the musical version of Elf in a Theatre Under the Stars production at the Hobby Center. The last time Rush was in Houston it was for Miss Saigon, which as she wryly notes, was a wonderful show but not one suitable for the youngest of her Texas relatives.

Elf, another one of those musicals made from a popular movie, tells the story of Buddy, a human child, who ends up at the North Pole after crawling into Santa's bag. His discovery that he's not just a really big fairy creature leads him to try to reconnect his roots in where else: New York City. There his task is to persuade his doubting father and others to believe in the spirit of Christmas. Ah those cynical New Yorkers.

Describing her character, Jovie, who plays Buddy's love interest, Rush says: "Jovie is a quirky girl for sure. It's a nice change for me. I tend to play more traditional ingenues or girls who are not the nicest." although Jovie is not too happy about the holidays, but the end with Buddy's influence she comes to embrace the spirit of the season.

Even people who've already seen the 2003 movie should recognize that live theater is its own magical experience, Rush says. "Besides, I think it's fun to see people dancing around in brightly colored costumes." The story doesn't differ much from the Will Ferrell movie but by using music and dance it tells it in a slightly different way, Rush says.

Elf runs December 6 through 22 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For ticket information call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com.

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