There are plenty of reasons why Eric Williams wanted to play the lead role in “Elf The Musical,” but it mainly only took one song.
In the big-screen-to-Broadway adaptation of the Christmas comedy “Elf” starring Will Ferrell, there is a song called “World’s Greatest Dad” where Buddy The Elf, the native New Yorker who unsuspectingly hitches a ride back to the North Pole on Santa’s sleigh as a child only to grow up convinced he is an elf (despite being over six feet tall), learns he is actually a human and will travel back to meet his dad for the first time.
The song begins intimately as Buddy imagines the father-son bonding that will take place upon his arrival (it doesn’t quite work out that way) and builds into something grand as Buddy begins an equally grand, touching and oftentimes hilarious adventure.
“I think the song is incredible because it starts from a very simple place,” Williams said. “I just love that honest beginning that morphs into Broadway magic.”
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In many ways, Williams’ description of a song accurately describes the charm and appeal of the current touring Broadway musical, which comes to the Lexington Opera House Nov. 16- 18.
When it comes to the 2003 film, Williams knew he had some pretty big comedic shoes and green tights to fill capturing the innocence, endearment and enthusiasm of Will Ferrell’s iconic performance. In “Elf The Musical,” Williams has an even greater task when you factor in not just the physical comedy but the dancing and vocal demands of the musical numbers, which he describes as “big Broadway sound with a pop flair.”
This is the second time Williams will be portraying Buddy on a touring production and after enduring nine call backs for the part, he feels like he has found a character that truly plays to his strengths.
“I love playing Buddy so much because it combines so many different skill sets that you really have to embrace and invest in,” he said. “It has proven to be an absolute dream role for me.”
The music featured in the show has several parts that usually lead to uproarious applause, he said, whether it’s something as simple as seeing what Buddy can do with only two Salvation Army sleigh bells or the song “Nobody Cares About Santa Claus” featuring a number of disgruntled mall Santas in a jazzy dance number. The stage production also fleshes out the romantic relationship between Buddy and Jovie (played by Paloma D’auria) to a much greater degree.
While there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the show, Williams said there is also a lot to take away from both the journey and the attitude of the elf himself.
“You can’t help but love Buddy’s perspective,” he said. “I think we could learn about eternal optimism in the perspective of reality. There are very difficult circumstances around you but if you remain on the positive side of that, you can change the outcome of those difficult circumstances.”
IF YOU GO
‘Elf The Musical’
What: National tour of the hit Broadway musical, presented by Broadway Live!
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18
Where: Lexington Opera House 401 W. Short St.
Tickets: $65 to $120