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Elf the Musical at Peoria Players

Since the movie premiered 15 years ago, Elf has become a modern-day Christmas classic.

The 2003 blockbuster starring Will Ferrell as Buddy was such a hit that it became a musical seven years later – one that’s being performed for the first time in the region at Peoria Players Theatre from November 9-18.

The family-friendly show directed by Jeremy Kelly is part of Peoria Players’ 100th season. It tells the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

“This show is a great time for kids and adults,” said Austin Hendricks, who plays Buddy. “It has covert adult humor combined with a story that kids will love.”

Hendricks, 26, has been involved in theater his entire life but is particularly enjoying this role.

“I like this role because buddy isn’t too far off from who I am,” he said, “He is just an exaggerated version of me.”

The cast is made up of 24 adults and 10 kids. Other characters include Jovie, played by Lauren Deppe; Walter Hobbs, played by Troy Hamilton; Emily Hobbs, played by Celeste Matheson and Michael Hobbs, played by Jonathan Enderle. Randee Blickenstaff choreographed, and Hannah Drake music directed.

“The talent for this show is incredible,” said director Jeremy Kelly. “I have a Peoria-area dream cast and crew bringing to life this Christmas story we all love.”

All of the performances, including the first holdover, of Elf The Musical have sold out. However, a second holdover performance has been added at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 17. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for patrons 20 and younger. Call (309) 688-4473.

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