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Book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin
Music by Matthew Sklar, Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Based upon the New Line Cinema film

Study Guide prepared by Kathy Quayle, Education Coordinator, 2013

The Grand Theatre Study Guide: Elf 2013H14 Season

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Curriculum Connections............................................................................................................... 3
The Creators of Elf.......................................................................................................................... 3
Synopsis ............................................................................................................................................... 4
Our Production of Elf.................................................................................................................... 6
Message from the Director........................................................................................................... 6
Interesting Facts............................................................................................................................... 7
Classroom Activities and Elf Trivia............................................................................................ 8
Suggested Resources..................................................................................................................... 11
Theatre Etiquette............................................................................................................................ 12

The Grand Theatre Study Guide: Elf 2013H14 Season

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Curriculum Connections

Elf supports learning in the subject areas of:
The Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Dance, Drama)
Language/English/Writers’ Craft

Canadian and World Studies

Social Studies and Humanities

The Creators of Elf

Elf is by Tony®-winning book writers Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin and the
Tony®-nominated songwriting duo of Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin.

Thomas Meehan (Book)
Thomas Meehan was born in1929 in Ossining, New York. He moved to New York
at age 24. He has received the Tony® Award for Best Book of a Musical three times:
his Broadway debut Annie (1977); The Producers with Mel Brooks (2001); and he
shared the 2003 award with Mark O’Donnell for Hairspray. Additional writing and
co-writing theatre credits include Ain’t Broadway Grand, Oh, Kay!, Bombay Dreams,
Annie Warbucks, 1984, Young Frankenstein, Cry-Baby Elf, and Limelight: The Story
of Charlie Chaplin.
Meehan is also an Emmy Award-winning writer of television comedy, and
collaborated on a number of screenplays, including: Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, a
remake of To Be or Not to Be; the film adaptation of The Producers, and One
Magic Christmas.

Bob Martin (Book)
Bob Martin was born in 1963 in England and is now a writer, actor, and comedian
working out of Toronto, Ontario. He has both performed in and written many TV
shows. Martin received the Tony® Award for Best Book of a Musical for Minsky’s
and The Drowsy Chaperone. The musical The Drowsy Chaperone was originally
written as a wedding present for Martin and his wife, Janet van de Graaf. At the
end, he created the “Man in the Chair” character when he got up and read out his
notes on the show.

Martin has been nominated for the Tony® Award for Best Actor in a Musical, the
Canadian Screen Award for Best Comedy Program or Series, the Drama Desk
Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, and the Canadian Screen Award for Best
Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role.

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Matthew Sklar (Music)
Matthew Sklar, born in Westfield, New Jersey in 1973, is a Broadway composer. He
was nominated for the 2006 Tony® Award for Best Original Score for his Broadway
debut as the composer for the musical The Wedding Singer. He also composed
the music for the Broadway musical hit Elf which broke box office records five of
the nine weeks of its limited engagement at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2010-2011.
Matthew co-produced the original Broadway cast albums for both shows.
He has been a pianist, conductor, and dance music arranger for many productions
including Shrek, 42nd Street, Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, Nine and Caroline, or
Change and written his own original musicals, which include The Rhythm Club,
Judas and Me, and Wicked City. He has been working on Broadway since the age
of eighteen.

Chad Beguelin (Lyrics)
Chad Beguelin was born in 1969 and is an American playwright who wrote the
lyrics and book for the Broadway musical The Wedding Singer. He was nominated
for two Tony® Awards as well as a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics for
his work on The Wedding Singer. He wrote the lyrics for the Broadway musical Elf,
as well as the book and lyrics for The Rhythm Club and Wicked City. He wrote the
books for Disney’s Aladdin and On the Record. Beguelin will make his off-Broadway
playwriting debut with Harbor.

As a screenwriter, Beguelin sold a script to Grammnet Productions and also worked
as a staff writer for Disney’s live action film department in California.


Based on the popular New Line Cinema Film of the same name, Elf is the wacky,
wonderful story of Buddy, a very merry musical at The Grand Theatre this 2013
holiday season.

Act I
The show opens with Santa at home in front of the TV watching a hockey game,
preparing to share the story of Buddy the Elf. We learn that Buddy was an orphan,
crawled into Santa’s sack of toys and was accidentally transported to the North Pole
one Christmas Eve 28 years ago. The elves at the North Pole raised Buddy and so
Buddy believes he is an elf.
One day, Buddy learns that he is, in fact, human and that his human father, Walter
Hobbs, is alive in New York City! With Santa’s encouragement Buddy embarks on a
journey to New York City to meet his father.

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In the big city of New York, Buddy meets his dad Walter, stepmom Emily, and halfbrother Michael at his dad’s office in the Empire State Building. Walter is a busy
businessman with little time for family and no time for holiday spirit. Walter has
security escort Buddy to the nearest North Pole… in Macy’s Department Store.

With cheer and song, Buddy inspires the workers at Macy’s to get into the
Christmas spirit as they decorate and prepare for Santa’s arrival. Adding to his
excitement, he falls in love with Jovie, a part-time elf at Macy’s.

Buddy is very confused the next morning when he meets a fake Santa. After a
tousle in Macy’s, Buddy is taken by the police to the Hobbs’ household. Buddy
convinces them to write a letter to Santa.

On their date, Buddy and Jovie dine on souvlaki and ice skate at Rockefeller
Centre. Jovie shares her Christmas dream with Buddy: dinner at Tavern on the
Green on Christmas Eve. Buddy promises Jovie that his dad can get them a table.
However, Walter is under stress at work. He needs a Christmas story to save his job.
When he thinks that he has found it, Buddy unknowingly shreds the manuscript to
make fake snow to cheer his father. Frustrated, Walter tells Buddy to pack up and
leave. Buddy writes a farewell note to his new family and departs on his own.

Act II
Buddy, alone and hungry in NYC on Christmas Eve, wanders into a Chinese
restaurant filled with disgruntled and disillusioned fake Santas. At the restaurant,
the Macy’s manager teaches Buddy that in order to ‘make up’ he needs to give his
dad a present.

Meanwhile, Jovie has waited for hours outside Tavern on the Green. Buddy arrives
very late for their date, admitting that he forgot the date. He seeks her forgiveness
by giving her a snowglobe.

Emily and Michael find Buddy’s goodbye note and want to help him. They see
Santa’s sleigh flying out their window, renewing their belief in all things magical.
Everyone ends up at Walter’s office in the Empire State Building. Buddy helps
pitch a new story to Mr. Greenway to save his dad’s job, but after Greenway insults
Buddy and Michael, Walter stands up for his family and quits his job.

The Hobbs family rush to Central Park where Santa’s sleigh has landed, having run
out of power from lack of Christmas spirit. Buddy has an idea and borrows Santa’s
iPad to meet with New York citizens and remind them of a time when they believed
in Santa. With Buddy’s genuine show of optimism and infectious holiday spirit, he
brings heart and hope and Christmas to everyone.
Musical Numbers include:

Sparklejollytwinklejingley, I’ll Believe in You, There is a Santa Claus.
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Our Production of Elf

-Director Susan Ferley and Set and Costume Designer Bill Layton found inspiration
for set and costume designs in illustrations for children’s books.

-Bill Layton’s ideas for the playful set structures were sparked by a colourful,
slot-together cityscape toy called MoMA Play Town from the Museum of Modern
Art in New York City.

-Bill Layton looked to the current chic ensembles and fashion worn in New York City
to costume the characters in Elf.

-The Grand Theatre’s wardrobe department created 13 sets of elf ears and 13 elf
hats for the company of Elf.

-Pieces of the elves’ costumes were re-purposed material of Gandalf’s costume in
our 2011 production of The Hobbit.

-During the nightmare scene, the human-sized toys include a giant Rubik’s Cube
made of foam core with struts, an enormous Slinky crafted from 500 ft of clear
plastic hose, a gigantic Etch-A-Sketch and a spinning top made of pool noodles,
insulating foam, yoga mats and boning made to spin around the actor.

-Props created 13 Etch-A-Sketches using layered wood with rounded edges and
hand painted logos with gold paint pens and used the tops of pop bottles for the

-Santa’s sleigh started as a mobility scooter. The props team striped it back to the
bare bones and added a steel frame with wood, foam, and more metal and then
two revolving propellers, lights, tail pipe smoke, and a giant bag of toys riding on
the back to achieve what you see on stage.

Message from the Director
I love that within The Grand Theatre’s season, our holiday show is shared by families
and includes young theatregoers, many experiencing theatre for the first time. This
is a story with great heart that wonderfully engages all ages.
In my program notes for both Legally Blonde and Ring of Fire the term hero
came up. While Legally Blonde is very playful, Elle Woods stands up against
discrimination and prejudice within the story. In Ring of Fire Johnny Cash heroically

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conquered alcoholism and drug addiction that haunted his life. I love that in Elf
the children are the heroic ones. It is the children in our lives that remind us of the
sense of wonder that our holiday celebrations evoke.
This story is about how the children in the family save the parent. It is a
contemporary story that reminds us to find balance in our lives. Walter has become
consumed by his work. It is Walter’s children who save him and get him off Santa’s
naughty list. The fact that one of the children is a 6’4” elf named Buddy definitely
contributes to the playful spirit of the story!
Music plays an important role. In this story we learn “the best way to spread
Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Music so beautifully contributes
to the spirit of the story and definitely contributes to the celebration of Christmas
Spirit. And in our story, Christmas Spirit is necessary to make Christmas fly literally
and figuratively.
It is a witty story that engages adult audiences on one level, the younger crowd
on another and then there are many glorious moments when the whole audience
comes together to laugh as one.
Let there be music and wonder in your life and in your celebrations this holiday

Best wishes to all…

- Susan Ferley, Artistic Director of The Grand Theatre

Interesting Facts
-Elf broke box office records five of the nine weeks of its limited engagement at the
Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2010-2011.

-Canadian Geography is highlighted in Buddy’s trip from The North Pole to New
York City in The Grand Theatre’s production of Elf. There are at least 3 Ontario
cities on Buddy’s trip – see if you can spot them!

-Matthew Sklar (who wrote the music for Elf) credits his start in composing to his
music teacher, who asked him to write a song for his 8th grade graduation. On
a whim, Sklar sent the song to Walt Disney Productions, who recorded it for the
Mickey Mouse Club!

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Classroom Activities

*Activities are grouped by subject, but may have cross-curricular applications.

Preshow Activities and Ten Trivia Questions about Elf

-Brainstorm a list of popular or traditional holiday songs. Assign students or groups
to research origins of some from the list.

-View the 2005 film version of Elf. Brainstorm possible adaptations for the stage.

-Play elf on a shelf! Hide an elf in the classroom in a new place each day with secret
message, holiday fact, or Advent number to countdown to Christmas!

-Discuss the role of beliefs in society; the need for something greater than you.
Ask students to journal about their personal experiences with imaginary or spiritual
beliefs and reflect upon them in the context of their upbringing and current lives.

-In pairs, research and create newspaper articles of top Santa themed news stories
from around the world.

-Have students compare and contrast the world histories of Santa Claus, St. Nick,
and Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, etc.

Ten Trivia Questions about Elf

1) Who played Buddy Hobbs in the 2005 movie Elf?
Answer: Will Ferrell

2) What toy was Buddy making where he failed to make his daily quota?
Answer: Etch-A-Sketches

3) When Buddy leaves the North Pole, he floats away on a patch of ice. Which
Christmas classic is this scene taken from?
Answer: 1964 animated movie Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

4) What department store does Buddy visit after he is thrown out of his father’s
office, Greenway Publishing in Empire State Building? Bonus: In what recent holiday
show at The Grand Theatre was store also featured?
Answer: Macy’s Department Store

Bonus Answer: Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical

5) What’s ‘the best way to spread Christmas cheer’?
Answer: ‘Singing loud for all to hear’

6) In the song Sparklejollytwinklejingley, Buddy’s motto is “To thine own elf be
true.” What famous play and playwright are being paid homage?
Answer: Hamlet, by William Shakespeare.

7) What does Buddy enjoy for breakfast?
Answer: cold spaghetti with maple syrup

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8) In what ways does Buddy try to cheer up the people of NYC and renew their
Christmas spirit?
Possible Answers: making snow, singing, drinking hot chocolate topped with a
chocolate bar, decorating with sparkly things, going ice skating, writing letters to
Santa, etc.

What group prevents Santa from using flying reindeer and what do they stand for?
Answer PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

10) What powers Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve?
Answer: Christmas Spirit

Music Activities

-In small groups, select a popular holiday song. Create a presentation of it to
perform for the class or create a music video of the song with a Glee-style spin.

-Buddy offers a suggestion about singing to Jovie on the skating rink. Buddy
advises “Think of the joy you’ll bring if you just close your eyes and sing!” How
is this piece of advice helpful to build confidence in shy singers? What are other
helpful ideas for shy singers?

-Write the lyrics to a new holiday song! Imagine what happens in Elf Part II or
compose a number about your favourite traditions of the holidays.
Visual Arts Activities*

*for fun, play the music of Elf in the background of your classwork!

-Select a scene from Elf or major event in Buddy’s story and create a comic strip
about it.

-Design your own poster for Elf.

-Design a new set or recreate the set on a small scale. What elements would you
feel are important to include?

-Pick a theme from Elf and explore it in a painting or drawing.

-Create a photo collage reflecting the cultural/political climate of NYC in 2013.

-Designer Bill Layton looked to the fashion of Norway and New York for his
inspiration of Elf costumes. Examine current fashion of Norway and New York. With
that in mind, redesign costumes for an Elf character of your choice.

-Make a snowflake! Visit help you create and
test your template before you cut it out of white, blue, and silver paper!
Dance Activities

-Turn your classroom into a winter wonderland. Play The Nutcracker Suite by
Tchaikovsky, encouraging your students move about the space in two contrasting
ways: the graceful skating rink Rockefeller Centre vs. the hustle and bustle of New
York City streets OR the peaceful falling snowflakes of the North Pole vs. the rapid
busy elves in Santa’s workshop! *Hint for primary classes: hand out silk scarves for
the young students to help express their interpretations of the music.

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-Enjoy an elf slipper dance class! Invite your students to bring in big slippers to
dance in! Look at traditional folk dancing of the northern countries for ideas to
lead your class.
-Write critically about the elements of dance from the performance of Elf that you
attended at The Grand Theatre. Consider the choreography, genre of dance, use
of space, use of movement vocabulary, choreographic intent of the work, theme,
overall effect of the pieces, costume design, lighting, incorporation of props,
technical ability of the dancers, emotions/feelings evoked. Compare and contrast
your review to other theatre reviews and comments of Elf.
-In groups, re-choreograph a dance to a chosen song from Elf.

Drama Activities

-Divide into groups and create tableaux of scenes from the play. Arrange these in
order and perform, turning classroom lights dim and then on for each transition; it
adds to the magic!

-Choose a character from Elf and create a biography, using real and imagined
information. Use this biography to create monologues to be performed.

-Imagine an alternate ending to the plot of Elf. Write and act it out. Or perform it as
a mime!

-Offer students a chance to explore their favourite lead, supporting, or ensemble
role from Elf:
-How would a Macy’s worker describe work and life in New York before and
after Buddy arrived?
-Imagine being an elf in Santa’s workshop and growing up with Buddy –What
were the challenges and benefits of having a tall non-elf in the North Pole?
-Pretend that you are Buddy’s father or stepmother or brother and give an
account of the changes Buddy made from his first arrival to NYC until now.

-Write a review of the Elf performance you attended. Include a synopsis, themes,
and critique of the theatrical elements production (direction, acting, lighting,
set, costume, music). Consider including why certain songs and scenes were
highlighted. Compare your review to other theatre reviews and comments of Elf.

English/Language/ Writer’s Craft Activities
-As one of the characters, write a letter to someone who is absent to let them
know what is going on in New York City. For example Emily might write to a
friend, Michael might write to a school teacher, Walter might write to a fellow
-In groups, research the genre of children’s literature featuring adolescents and
power of belief. How does Elf fit into this category?
-Have your students pitch a book idea! What holiday story would be the next best
seller? Have them create a story board of their idea!
-A common theme in holiday stories is transformation (For example, A Christmas
Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, The Nutcracker, The Grinch). In
Elf, Buddy’s arrival prompts a change in Walter. Write your own holiday story about

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-Another popular theme in holiday stories is ‘unlikely heroes’. In Elf, the heroes
are Walter’s kids, include the most unlikely hero. Compose a new holiday hero
story. (Stuck for an idea? Begin with a most unusual title: The ________ that Saved

Canadian and World Studies
–Draw a topographical map (overhead view) of Manhattan Island, New York City.
Include the locations that are mentioned and represented in Elf.
-Make a map from The North Pole to New York City, marking the route that Buddy
might have taken. Did you include the three Ontario cities spotted during Buddy’s
-What NYC places and sights are represented in Elf? Choose one of these places
and research its history and interesting facts, then draw, or create a model of it!

Social Sciences and Humanities
- How does Buddy share his upbeat and positive spirit with others? What are first
and final reactions by the people of New York City?
-Brainstorm pros and cons of a cheerful optimist and the same for negative realist.
Can you find any research to support your thoughts?
-Consider the fact that Buddy is on the outside. He doesn’t fit, figuratively or
literally, in The North Pole. He has strong beliefs that are not shared by the people
of New York City. By the end of Elf, Buddy’s open, giving, and infectious spirit has
changed the people of NYC. Have students write a personal reflection on why we
as humans create masks, shields, and layers to seemingly protect ourselves even
when deep down we might all want to believe.
-In groups, discuss the importance of belief for an individual, community, or culture.
Can you relate this to Santa’s plight in the story of Elf?

Suggested Resources
New Line Cinema Film Elf (2003)

Written by David Berenbaum, Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart.

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Theatre Etiquette

1. Are food and drinks allowed in the theatre?
No, only bottled water will be allowed in the house. The reason we do not allow
food or drinks inside the theatre is because spillage can harm the seats and noise
can distract the actors and audience during the performance. For most shows there
is usually a 20-minute intermission. Students are able to buy a snack or drink at that
time and consume them in the lobby.

2. Can I bring my camera and take pictures?
Picture taking and/or recording are not allowed inside the theatre. In addition, it’s
important all beepers, cell phones and assorted noise makers are turned off during
the performance.

3. Is there a dress code for theatres?
There is no dress code for either our MainStage or McManus productions. While
some patrons like to dress up, patrons can wear whatever is comfortable.

4. Why aren’t audience members allowed to talk to each other while
watching a play?
Talking can be distracting to other audience members and also distracting to the
actors who want to give the best possible performance.

5. What happens if I arrive late?
Late arrivals will be required to wait in the lobby until an appropriate break in the
show so as not to disturb the actors or the rest of the audience.

6. What if I have to leave my seat in the middle of a performance?
Of course there will be times when you must leave your seat, but we hope you’ll
make every effort to stay seated until the intermission. Movement in the audience
disturbs the actors and other audience members. If you must leave, please wait for
an appropriate break in the show (i.e. scene changes).

7. What happens if a person is misbehaving during a performance?
If a person is disruptive to other audience members around them during a
performance they may be asked to leave by an usher or our front of house

8. When should I be back in my seat after intermission?
Please return to your seat at the end of the 20-minute intermission so that we don’t
continue the show without you. The lobby lights will flash to let you know when the
intermission is coming to an end.

The Grand Theatre Study Guide: Elf 2013H14 Season