Initial casting has been announced for the upcoming holiday musical Elf. Tony Award winner Beth Leavel and Tony nominee Mark Jacoby will star as Buddy the Elf's stepmom, Emily, and father, Walter. George Wendt will play Santa Claus. Elf begins previews on November 2 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre for a limited engagement through January 2, 2011. Opening night will be on November 14, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. Casting for the central roles of Buddy and his love interest, Jovie, will be announced at a later date.
Elf will also star Matthew Gumley as Michael, Valerie Wright as Deb, Michael McCormick as Mr. Greenway and Michael Mandell as store manager. The company will include Timothy J. Alex, Callie Carter, Cara Cooper, Lisa Gajda, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Blake Hammond, Emily Hsu, Jenny Hill, Nancy Johnston, Marc Kessler, Matt Loehr, Lee Wilkins, and Kirsten Wyatt.
The new musical has a book by Tony nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin and a book by Tony winners Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin. Based on the popular 2003 film, Elf follows the adventure of a young man named Buddy who grew up at the North Pole believing he is one of Santa's Christmas elves. When his adoptive father reveals he is actually human, Buddy heads to New York City to find his real family.
Leavel can currently be seen on Broadway as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! and received a Tony Award for her performance as the title character in The Drowsy Chaperone. Her other Broadway credits include Young Frankenstein, 42nd Street, Crazy For You, The Civil War and Show Boat. Leavel's other stage work includes Minsky's (alongside Elf co-star Wendt), No, No Nanette, The Jazz Singer and An Unfinished Song.
Jacoby received a Tony nomination for Show Boat. He also starred in the original Broadway production of Ragtime as well as in The Phantom of the Opera, Grand Hotel and Sweet Charity.
Wendt is best known for his run 11 year run as Norm Peterson on TV's Cheers. He received six Emmy nominations for the role. He has appeared on Broadway as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray and in the Tony winning play Art. Wendt toured with 12 Angry Men and appeared with Leavel in the L.A. production of Minsky's. His many film credits include Fletch, Gung Ho and Outside Providence.
Gumley can currently be seen as Pugsley in The Addams Family. His other Broadway credits include Mary Poppins and Beauty in the Beast. Wright has appeared on Broadway in Song and Dance, Steel Pier, Annie Get Your Gun, Cats, Damn Yankees and Sally Marr and Her Escorts. McCormick has performed in Curtains, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Pajama Game, Kiss Me Kate, 1776, La Bete and Gypsy. Mandell is also a Broadway holiday veteran for A Christmas Carol and appeared in Big River.
Scenic design for Elf is by David Rockwell, costume design is by Gregg Barnes, lighting design is by Natasha Katz and sound design is by Peter Hylenski. Elf will feature orchestrations by Doug Besterman.