The things we do (and eat) for art. Actor Marco Camacho has taken the Buddy the Elf spaghetti challenge, eating sugary sweet mouthfuls of noodles dripping with syrup, but he says it's totally worth it.
Camacho, who has been cast in the title role in Queensbury Theatre's upcoming production of Elf The Musical, says he's had his eye on the part ever since he heard the movie was being turned into a musical. "This is a dream role of mine," says Camacho. "I'm so happy that I have this opportunity."
He's really getting into the part, and can quickly rattle off all five major food groups for elves. "Cookies, candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup."
Ryan McGettigan, a finalist for Best Set and Property Design in the 2018 Houston Theater Awards for creating the outdoor river, crevasses and outlooks in Main Street Theater's Men on Boats, is draping Queensbury's main stage in a candy-coated winter wonderland.
"From the renderings I've seen, it’s pretty cool. It's designed to look like a snow globe with big candy cane arches," says Camacho. "And then in the background it changes from forest and trees to New York City."
Marley Singletary, Queensbury's producing executive director, is directing the production. Joining the cast are John Gremillion as Walter Hobbs, Buddy's real father; Susan Koozin as Walter's devoted wife, who just wants him to spend more time at home; Holland Vavra as Walter's efficient secretary; and Stephen Pavalock doubles as Santa Claus and the cranky Mr. Greenway. Shanae'a Moore, a finalist for Best Utility Player in this year's Houston Theater Awards, adds yet another character to her repertoire. She's playing Jovie, the cynical, tough around the edges, Macy's store elf.
But how to fill out a large ensemble cast that includes roles for the vertically challenged Santa's helpers at the North Pole? Queensbury also is home to the Tribble School for the Performing Arts, and 28 youth performers have been cast in the production. "I believe they are all elves at the beginning and then throughout the show a couple of students play kids in New York. The kids are great," says Camacho. "[They] are very professional."
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With book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, music by Matthew Skylar, and lyrics by Chad Beguelin, there are sure to be a few songs that audience members will find themselves singing on the way home.
"There are so many good ones. My favorite has to be 'World’s Greatest Dad.' That was the first song that I ever heard [from the musical]," says Camacho. "Then 'Sparklejollytwinklejingley.' It’s a tongue twister. I will listen to in the car when I'm running errands; it gets me in the Christmas spirit."
The song calls for us to all remember that, no matter how gloomy things are, December is a time for glitz. So what's the best way to spread Christmas cheer? Just take Buddy the Elf's advice. "By singing loud for all to hear," adds Camacho.
Performances of Elf The Musical are scheduled for December 7-23, 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. December 9, 2 p.m. December 16 and 23, Queensbury Theatre, 12777 Queensbury Lane, 713-467-4497, queensburytheatre.org, $21 to $49.