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Authentic Community Theatre stages 'Elf Jr.' for the holidays

Authentic Community Theatre stages 'Elf Jr.' for the holidays

There’s just something about Luke Malott that makes you smile. 

His “Elf Jr.” cast member Julianna Wood sees it, too.

“He’s a wonderful person to be around,” she said. “He’s so happy-go-lucky all the time.”

So when it came time for Authentic Community Theatre to cast the main character Buddy, who grows up an elf but is actually a human, Luke was the perfect fit. 

And he’ll spread the joy of Christmas this weekend when ACT stages “Elf Jr.” Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2, at South Hagerstown High School.

Luke,13, is a seventh-grader at Springfield Middle School. He said he’s having fun playing Buddy, who goes on his a quest to find his real father. 

“Honestly I see Buddy as this outgoing, loving guy and he kind of seems like he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but as we go through the show we learn that Buddy is getting used to the human world,” he said. “And he has to go through those changes, but he still keeps his happy personality, which just makes it a super fun and happy show.”

Director Jake Young said “Elf Jr.” is a nice selection.

“We thought it would be the perfect Christmas show to do,” she said. “We usually see theaters do ‘A Christmas Carol’ and those are classic community theater shows, but “Elf” is the new one that’s been added to the mix. Everybody loves the movie and it has a really great energy to it and it’s a really great story. 

We thought it would be cool to add it this year.”

There are 17 cast members in “Elf Jr.” ranging in age from 6 to 12. Young said they’ve been in rehearsals since September. One of ACT’s missions is to create a professional environment for the child actors.  

“That’s what this program is all about. We’re trying to create a professional atmosphere for these kids to educate them on what that would be like and all that good stuff,” he said. “We talk to them like actors, we give them notes that way.”

Young said the audience will “love the spirit of the show. And just the message of the show of a whole bunch of love and love for Christmas and love for family.”

“Elf Jr.” is Luke’s second play with ACT and he said he enjoys acting. 

“Onstage they always say you should be yourself, but it’s just this place where you can play this character and fall in love with it and express yourself through this character — and that’s what I love about acting,” he said. “It can help you have better self-esteem and you can make so many new friends and it’s just a really positive expressive.”

As for “Elf Jr.,” Luke said the show is happy most of the time — he points out there is a song called “Happy All The Time.”

“This play is going to be really upbeat and joyous,” he said. 

Kaylie Brown, 12, is a sixth-grader at Springfield Middle. She is cast as Emily Hobbs, Buddy’s stepmother. 

“I love that Emily has songs and that she gets to show her personality a lot more in this because in the movie she doesn’t get to show her feelings,” she said. “But in this, she gets to show her feelings and I really like the songs are kind of groovy and you get to have a lot of fun with them.”

Kaylie has been acting for about five years and has been acting since she was 7 years old. 

“I love that I get to show myself and be myself and just have fun with my friends,” she said. 

Kaylie promises that “Elf Jr.” is a “really good show.” 

“It’s a little bit different from the movie but it’s still has a lot of the movie in it,” she said.  

Juliana Wood, 11, is a sixth-grader at Smithsburg Middle School. She’s been acting for three years and has been cast in this production as Walter, Buddy’s biological father. 

It might be a stretch to play a guy, but Juliana said it’s much harder playing Walter because he’s “the really grumpy one for most of the play.”

“I’m a really happy person most of the time,” she said. “I’ve been practicing trying to be mean.”

That means she’s been practicing her lines and body movements “ like put your hands on your hip and have a rude presence with you.” 

And, she said, she’s having fun playing the grump. But she said, she also loves all of her cast members. 

Juliana encourages everyone to come out to see the play. 

“I think they should come out because it’s a very good example of a good play,” she said. “And it’s a Christmas play, and who doesn’t love Christmas?”

If you go ... 

WHAT: “Elf Jr., the Musical”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 
WHERE: South Hagerstown High School, 1101 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown
COST: $12 for adults; $6 for children ages 10 and younger. 

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