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'Elf Jr.' musical teaches 'goodwill, wonder and cheer'

Cary Ashby • Dec 11, 2019 at 9:00 AM

NORWALK — One of the three roles that Owen Mynarsky plays in the local musical “Elf Jr.” is “fake Santa.”

The 10-year-old son of Jeffrey and Jill Mynarsky is part of the 40-plus cast members who will perform during the Norwalk Arts Center productions Friday through Sunday at 22 E. Main St.

Mynarsky plays two other characters — Sam and a jogger. 

“The most interesting is probably fake Santa. He’s like your stereotypical mall Santa and I think he’s super interesting because you have this stern and rough guy playing this beloved child’s icon,” he said. “I think it’s funny when you have such a man playing Santa Claus.”

His younger sister also is in one the two casts. Eight-year-old Grace plays Emma Van Brocklin and an elf.

“She feels like a close friend when it comes to a theater production,” Owen said. “I’ve done more (plays) than Grace, but I’d say she’s a pretty good actress.”

Grace said she enjoys playing the elf the most because she pretends to build “a lot of toys.”

“It’s more interesting because you are way more active than just one person just singing something,” she said.

“Elf Jr.” is based on the 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell as Buddy. The musical features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar (“The Wedding Singer”) and Chad Beguelin (“Disney's Aladdin On Broadway,” “The Wedding Singer”) and a book by Tony winners Thomas Meehan (“Annie,” “The Producers,” “Hairspray”) and Bob Martin (“The Drowsy Chaperone”).

The Norwalk Arts Center is presenting “Elf Jr.” through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

“(It) is an uplifting musical about one boy’s quest to find his true identity. The story encourages each of us to approach each day with goodwill, wonder and cheer. From the first rehearsal, the students from Norwalk Arts Center have worked together as a team to create this wonderful experience for your community to enjoy. We think they deserve a standing ovation for all their work,” said Drew Cohen, the president of Music Theatre International.

A young orphan mistakenly crawls into one of Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is given the name Buddy and raised by elves in the North Pole. He lives happily unaware that he is actually a human until his 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 and discover his true identity.

At one point, Buddy confronts a man playing Santa in the mall.

When “he starts trying to call me out” about not being the real Santa, Owen Mynarsky said he “will try to go with it and still act like I’m the real Santa Claus in front of the kids.” 

Jett Scheid, 9, of Norwalk, plays Chadwick. 

“He is one of the guys writing the Christmas stories with Walter,” Scheid said. 

“Elf Jr.” is Scheid’s fifth play. He earlier performed with Curtain Call Productions.

“It was kind of hard memorizing (my) lines ... I’ve done previous plays, so I’ve got the hang of it now,” he said.

Buddy eventually faces the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and his stepbrother doesn't even believe in Santa. But Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of the holidays.

“I think people will remember is it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still believe in Santa Claus,” Grace Mynarsky said.

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