STAR Theater brings Christmas to the stage with ‘Elf the Musical’ – Newnan Times-Herald | Candle Made Easy

Rebecca Leftwich / The Newnan Times-Herald

Buddy the Elf (Ben McPherson) teaches Jovie (Amber Williams) the best way to spread the spirit of Christmas.

Son of a nutcracker – it’s Christmas in July!

The Superintendent’s Theater Arts Resource Program presents “Elf The Musical” July 28-31 at the Nixon Center for Performing and Visual Arts.

Based on Will Farrell’s heartwarming 2003 comedy Elf, the series follows a human baby, Buddy, who escapes from his cradle at the orphanage, crawls into Santa’s sack and ends up at the North Pole. Growing up, he feels out of place among Santa’s elves and eventually learns that his birth father is actually alive and living in New York City.

His journey of finding his father and figuring out how to get by in the human world is incredibly poignant, and the musical captures both the spirit and comedy of the film, according to STAR co-director Scott Ondovchik.

“You really don’t meet anyone who doesn’t love the film,” Ondovchik said. “Anytime you take a film and adapt it to the stage, some things will change, but for the most part, it’s very much following the film’s script. Next comes this fish out of water and he goes to New York City to see his father and see where he fits into this world.”

East Coweta High School theater director Ondovchik co-directs STAR every summer with Northgate theater director Cassie Scott. STAR, originally formed in 2008, went on hiatus for several years before being revived in 2017.

The summer theater program brings together performers from East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate High Schools and is supported by the Center’s patrons.

According to the Patrons, the program was created to give students the opportunity to participate in a musical theater production in which they learn about blocking, choreography, dialogue, set design and the physical conditioning necessary for live theatrical performances. The program is educational, non-competitive, and allows students to perform on a full-size stage — something none of Coweta’s high schools currently have.

“Without the support (of the patrons) and without their help, it would be very difficult to make these productions,” Ondovchik said. “You are a great supporter.”

Students audition for their chosen show at the end of the school year, usually in May. After the casting process has been completed, the participants will be invited to a first reading in early June. There’s a week of music and about four days of “very quick” blocking before elementary and middle school drama camps begin and the STAR program goes on the back burner.

Things are really speeding up in the last three weeks of June, Ondovchik said.

“We hit hard,” he said. “We have a week of choreography, we have a week to put it together, and then we go into technique and dress rehearsals.”

Ondovchik admits this summer’s show was a bit of a departure from previous years, which have spanned from “Hairspray” and “Mary Poppins” to last summer’s “Cinderella.”

“Often our musicals don’t happen around Christmas time – usually in the spring,” he said. “We could do this at one of our grassroots high schools in the spring, but we thought Christmas in July was such a great theme and something we thought would be super fun.”

Students will perform on stage, as will a production work team. Performers include:

Pal – Ben McPherson

Jovie-Amber Williams

Walter-Andrés Rondon

Emily-Cate Wathen

Michael—Kyleigh Hightower

Santa Claus – Bearre Dorsey

Deb—Sydney Smith

Charlie/Greenway—Zach Hornbeck

Tiara—Lola Strickland

Sam—Lizzy Klees

Chadwick-Marybeth Brown

Matthews-Emma Holloman

Manager—Dean Wisenbaker

Charlotte-Avery Huber

Fake Santa Claus – Alexander Rice

Waitress – Caoilinn Horton

Elves, Customers, NYC Street People, Fake Santas, Employees, etc – Melanie Corrales, Peyton Lowery, Aurelia Meares, Jasper Newborn, Uma Jaar Read and Anna Beth Shellnut.

Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm. All tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or online at

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