Many of Santa’s helpers live in Park City
Who knew Park City was home to a flock of Santa’s helpers?
It’s true. Five Park City kids will be featured in Pioneer Theatre Company’s production of the musical, "Elf," based on the 2003 comedy film starring Will Ferrell, that opens this weekend at the Pioneer Theatre in Salt Lake City.
These actors are Susie Carroll, Zoe Heiden, Chase Preston, Abigail Scott and her sister Maggie.
The energetic quintet took time out in their busy schedules between school, rehearsals and homework, to talk with The Park Record in separate interviews about the upcoming performances.
The oldest of the group is Susie Carroll, a junior at Park City High School.
"We auditioned in August and found out we got the roles during the first week of September," Carroll said. "So it was pretty quick."
Carroll said all the elves appear in the North Pole scene at the beginning of the show.
"We’re making toys and setting the mood for Christmas Town," she said. "It’s a fast-paced, energetic show and we do a lot of choreography."
The elves are making Etch-A-Sketches in an assembly line, and Carroll comes in with four other kids pushing wheelbarrows to collect the finished toys.
The scene establishes Santa’s toy shop, and, of course, how the main elf, Buddy, who is really a human child, doesn’t fit in.
"It’s well-timed and you can’t skip a beat or the whole scene falls apart," Carroll said. "Even our energy has to be high, because from the start to the finish, we all have to be a little hyper to show that we’re having a good time at the toy shop. If we don’t, the scene will lose its impact."
While Carroll is the oldest of the Park City kids in the musical, the youngest is Abigail Scott, a 10-year-old who attends Timpanogos Intermediate School.
"Elf" is Scott’s third Pioneer Theatre Company production. The others were "Les Miserables" and "A Christmas Carol."
Scott confessed that she had not seen the movie "Elf" before she auditioned for a role in the musical.
"I didn’t know what it was going to be like, so it was all very surprising to me," she said. "I actually didn’t watch the movie until we started rehearsing."
One of the challenges for Scott is the dancing and singing during the workshop scene.
"I’m also one of the wheelbarrow kids who go around to pick up packages that have Etch-A-Sketches in them," she said. "It’s important that we all focus what we’re doing, because sometimes the dance steps can be difficult to catch on to, and if you do them wrong, it looks bad."
Scott also portrays one of the kids who is waiting to sit on Santa’s lap at Macy’s Department Store in another scene in the musical.
"That’s a fun scene, because we’re all standing there and Buddy, who finds out that the Santa that comes to Macy’s isn’t the real one and he gets mad," Scott said.
Scott’s older sister, 12-year-old Maggie, is also in those two scenes.
This is the elder Scott’s fourth production with Pioneer Theatre Company.
"I’ve been in ‘Les Mis,’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Annie’ as well," she said.
The other musicals helped Scott, who attends Rocky Mountain Middle School, knows what to expect.
"In all the productions, we work close with the directors and the choreographers, because they are really specific in what they want us to do," she said. "They know what they want and how to make it look good."
Her favorite scene in "Elf" isn’t the toy shop, but Macy’s.
"It’s so funny, because we’re all standing in line and Buddy, gets mad at the fake Santa and, at one point, pulls his beard off," she said. "From there, everything goes into complete chaos. Everyone runs around screaming and we had to be careful not to run into each other."
When the Scott’s friend Zoe Heiden heard she got a role as an elf in the production, it was like a reunion of sorts.
"It’s so fun to be in this musical with my friends Maggie and Abigail, who were in ‘Les Mis’ with me last year," said Heiden, 12, a student at Weilenmann School of Discovery. "We help each other with the songs, because there are 11 pages of music that we had to memorize."
Getting the lines and songs down was the most difficult task for Heiden, but she was able to work with the Scotts on the way to and from rehearsals.
"We had to memorize scenes by the next day and we were able to cover it in the car during our carpools," she said. "It was also getting up on the tables to dance. It’s tricky, but we can do it."
Heiden was excited to start rehearsals because she had seen the film many times and always wondered how that would translate into a musical.
"I thought that would be awesome, especially the first part where all the elves are making toys," she said. "I thought it would be great if that was a big musical number, and when we started rehearsing, I found out it was."
The lone male actor from Park City is Chase Preston.
The 13-year-old Treasure Mountain Jr. High student said his appearances in YouTheatre productions at the Egyptian Theatre inspired him to try auditioning for "Elf."
"I love singing and performing," he said. "My first production was ’13 the Musical’ at the Egyptian and I had a blast."
Since the, Preston has been in two additional Egyptian productions, but "Elf" is his first for the Pioneer Theatre Company.
"It’s a great experience going down there and having the opportunity to perform for a large audience on a big stage that has presented many famous plays and musicals in the past," he said. "It’s hard. We had a choreographer come in from New York City. She was really fun, but also had us do very difficult dances."
Still, Preston looks forward to opening night, this Friday.
"It’s unbelievable that I have this opportunity to perform in this wonderful show," he said. "I have learned so much and realize that it does get harder, but it’s so worth it."
Pioneer Theatre Company will present "Elf — The Musical" Dec. 6 through Dec. 24, at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, at the University of Utah. Tickets range from $38 to $59 and are available by calling 801-581-6961 or visiting http://www.pioneertheatre.org.
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