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Elfing around in Amenia

Theater review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat Dec 8th, 2018

The cast of Elf, Jr. at the Amenia Town Hall Auditorium

Amenia’s Youtheater present the 2010 musical Elf this past Saturday and Sunday. The play was based on the 2003 motion picture. They entitled it Elf, Jr. because all the performers were local children under the direction of Heather Holohan-Guarnieri who deserves applause, especially for the difficult choreography. This was an amusing romp with children from five to ten. Billy Thompkins, somewhat shyly yet earnestly, played the reluctant father of the human child who was raised as an elf at Santa’s toy workshop in the North Pole.

As Buddy, the hero in search of his father, Chase Sukow sang with delightful tone and spontaneous emotion; there were moments when he was deliriously captivating with his elfin smile. Grace Manning, as Jovie, displayed a marvelous, enchanting voice—she may have a future in singing.

The corny adult plot-line of a writer struggling with cliché was overwhelmed by the chorus of children—appropriately so. Local theater is, above all, fun, and it was clear that everyone was having fun as parents admired the efforts of their offspring. Two Thespians each were contributed by the Manning, Smith, Sukow, and Elliot families.  Sonia Kowalczyk and Riley Mahaffy played three roles while Emily Fuisz hatted two roles, as did Emily and Emma Manning and Sofia Titone. In preparation the kids rehearsed for four months; the production ran for ninety minutes.

This is the first time Amenia has put on a theatrical production, employing the old primary school’s Auditorium stage (which was made possible by Bill Flood’s vision when he was supervisor). The Berkshire Foundation, Dutchess County, and the current supervisor provided funds for this enchanting family night of laughter and fun. If Santa Claus would only give Amenia a sewer for Christmas, then perhaps Amenia might become a real town instead of a stop light and two gas stations on the way to the North Pole.