Michael Rupert Stars in East Coast Premiere of Harry Connick Jr.'s The Happy Elf, Starting Nov. 12

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12 Nov 2010

Clint Johnson and Michael Rupert
Clint Johnson and Michael Rupert
Sanjay Suchak

The Happy Elf, the Harry Connick, Jr.-penned musical, gets a fully produced workshop production in the Washington, DC, area Nov. 12-28, marking the title's East Coast premiere. Tony Award winner John Rando directs a cast that includes Tony winner Michael Rupert.

Based on the song by Connick, the show features music and lyrics by Connick, and a book by Lauren Gunderson and Andrew Fishman.

Adventure Theatre, the Washington, DC-area children's theatre, and Montgomery College are co-producing the show. This is considered a developmental step toward a wider regional or perhaps New York City life.

The musical plays at Montgomery College's Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center in Rockville, MD.

This holiday children's musical was previously staged as a workshop production in Kansas City at the Coterie Theatre in 2007 and at First Stage Children's Theater in Milwaukee in 2008. According to the co-producers, "This new, live stage production tells the story of Eubie [played by Clint Johnson], a North Pole elf who always wears a smile. Eubie's overly optimistic outlook is put to the test when he decides to bring Christmas joy to the sad little town of Bluesville, which has fallen into a state of permanent blues. If Eubie can fix Bluesville, he may win a coveted spot on Santa's sleigh team. This heart-warming holiday musical captures the joy of the season and is destined to be a holiday classic for DC-area children."



Tony winner Rupert starred in the first Broadway revival of Sweet Charity (winning a Tony), plus Broadway's Pippin, City of Angels, The Happy Time, Falsettos, Legally Blonde and more. He plays the role of Norbert, the angry and scheming Elf foreman who runs Santa's toy shop.

The Happy Elf began as a song from Tony Award-nominated composer and lyricist Connick. It was heard on his 2003 CD "Harry for the Holidays," and was later developed into a 2005 CGI-animated TV special.

The company also includes Elliot Dash as Santa, Nova Payton as Gurt, Zack Colonna as Curtis, Valerie Issembert as Molly, Tina Ghandchilar as Gilda, Jobari Parker-Namdar as Hamm, Carolyn Caton as Candy Elf/Ensemble, David Weiner as Reindeer Elf/Ensemble, with ensemble members Ally Barrale, Melanie Kurstin, Neel Madan, Noah Mitchell, Madeleine Schinosi, Carl Williams, Hunter Kieserman, Jonathan Miot and Grace Sicard.

The creative team includes music director/orchestrator Darius Smith, choreographer Mark Minnick, scenic designer Beowulf Borrit, costume designer Peter Zakutansky, lighting designer Andrew Cissna, sound designer Veronika Vorel, properties designer Scott Hengen, stage manager Roy Gross, scenic artist Marisa (Za) Johns.

Director Rando made his Broadway debut directing Neil Simon's The Dinner Party. His other Broadway credits include Urinetown: The Musical (2002 Tony Award, Best Director and Outer Critics Circle Award), the 2006 Tony-nominated musical The Wedding Singer, the revival of Herb Gardner's A Thousand Clowns starring Tom Selleck, and Dance of the Vampires starring Michael Crawford.

Connick is expected to appear at the Nov. 13 opening press performance.

Tickets can be purchased through the Montgomery College Box Office by calling (240) 567-5301 or online at www.montgomerycollege.edu/pac. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for Montgomery College students and children under 12. Student matinee tickets are $10. Group rates are also available.

For more information, visit www.adventuretheatre.