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Elf Jr. spreads the spirit from TAFK to Children’s Hospital

Ho ho ho! It’s Christmas time at Theatre Arts for Kids (TAFK), and what better way to kick off the season than by celebrating with the North Pole’s favorite character? Coming from your TV screen to the TAFK stage is Elf Jr.

The story follows Buddy, a human who was raised as an elf in Santa’s workshop, through his many misadventures as he travels to New York City to find his real father. Along the way, he learns what it takes to be a human while adapting to the cold realities of human life, including the many people who don’t believe in Santa Claus, attempts to spread Christmas cheer to those he meets, and even manages to strike up a little bit of a love connection with the less-than-jolly Jovie. Buddy is without a doubt a one-of-a-kind spirit, and while some might consider him a nuisance, he quickly becomes part of the family. The final exhibition of his love for Christmas comes on Christmas Eve itself.

Feeling as though he will never fit in with the ways of the human world, Buddy roams the city dejectedly, but not for long. It is soon discovered that Santa’s sleigh cannot fly due to the lack of holiday spirit in the city, and it is up to Buddy to fix it. Will Buddy and his new found friends be able to save Christmas in time for the presents to be delivered? That is the most wonderful question of the year! 

Under the direction of Leah Kolar, these kids are putting on a show-stopping performance complete with full costumes, props, and technical elements, as well as applying the triple threat training they’ve received throughout the rehearsal process. However, there is more being done at TAFK than jazz hands and fa la la’s; the kids are philanthropists as well. Partnering with the Kiwanis Builders Club, Elf Jr. is working on gathering an abundance of toys to donate to Children’s Hospital for the Christmas season.

The inspiration behind this project is very close to home as it comes from one of Theatre Arts for Kids’ own students, Lilly Pannier (age 12), who plays the role of Emily Hobbs in Elf. When Lilly was in third grade, she fell sick with a very serious case of E. coli which led to more and more health problems. In the month she was in the hospital, she underwent three surgeries, nine rounds of dialysis, five blood transfusions, and had to have a feeding tube in order to get nutrients. Needless to say, this was a very scary time for her, and all she wanted was to escape from the constant procedures. There was one thing, however, that never failed to cheer her up when everything else was looking grim, and that was when she received toys. According to Lilly, getting a toy made her feel special and helped to keep her calm amid the chaos of the hospital. Now the goal is to give that same comfort to the kids in the hospitals today. With the help of the Builders Club, she hopes that Elf Jr. can get the largest donation of toys possible. 

Lilly’s is not the only story that supports the project here at TAFK. Alexis Verzal (age 12), who plays the Saleswoman and multiple other roles in Elf, is equally excited about the toy donation. Alexis has also had an extensive past in and out of the hospital for various surgeries, procedures, and therapy sessions and can attest to the importance of giving kids in those situations a little bit of happiness. She also says that music is another thing that brings her joy, and can help her express her feelings. One thing’s for certain, there is plenty of music involved in Elf!

If you would like to contribute a new toy in its’ packaging, please bring it to the show or contact info@tafk.org to arrange pick up.

You have four chances to see Lilly, Alexis, and the rest of this extraordinary cast perform their hearts out in Theatre Arts for Kids’ production of Elf Jr. The performances are Thursday, November 21 and Friday, November 22 at 7:00 p.m and Saturday, November 23 at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m at Christ Lutheran Church (4325 Sumner Street). Tickets are available online. Make your holiday season “sparklejollytwinklejingly,” and get your tickets to Elf Jr. today!

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