An office shredder making debris that fills the air like falling snow creates scenic magic for actor Heather Jefferies. The recent Brigham Young University graduate plays Deb, an office manager, in the national tour of “Elf,” the good-hearted musical.
For Jefferies, 23, a Sacramento, Calif. native, one of the highlights of the first act is performing the song “Just Like Him.” The scene unfolds the story of what happens the first time Buddy, a North Pole-raised orphan, visits the New York office Deb manages for his biological father, Walter. As the shredded snow falls around her, the actor says she loves the opportunity to pause, in concert with her character, and appreciate the stage magic around her.
The national tour of the 2010 Broadway musical will play downtown’s Eccles Theater Friday through Sunday.
“Elf,” the 2003 movie, became a generational holiday hit, as Will Ferrell made comedic catnip out of the story of Buddy, whose size and toymaking klutziness make him genetically out-of-step among the elves in Santa’s workshop. He heads out to find his father and to help naughty and nice New Yorkers rediscover the “Sparklejollytwinklejingley” sentiment — as one song tells it — of the holiday.
Utah theatergoers might remember the brightly colored, tuneful show at Pioneer Theatre Company in 2013, in one of the musical’s first regional productions. As guest director Dan Knechtges told it: “Good froth always has depth.”
Landing a fall run of the touring holiday musical was something of a surprising pre-wedding present for Jefferies, and she and her fiancé agreed to postpone their wedding so she could take the role. The tour’s last show is Dec. 31. On Jan. 2, she’ll return to Provo to marry Adam Jefferies, whom she met at BYU’s music dance and theater program. After he graduates in April, the couple plan to move to New York City to pursue acting careers.
Jefferies will be familiar to many Utah theatergoers with her string of three performances in Hale Centre Theatre’s “Oklahoma!,” “Big Fish” and the regional premiere of “The Pirate Queen,” where the actor was billed under her family name, Heather McDonald. Swordfighting in a dress changes everything about how your character moves, the actor told The Tribune early last year about playing Irish leader Grace O’Malley.
Actors have to self-brand, she says with a laugh, explaining why she adopted her husband-to-be’s name early after realizing there was already an actor named Heather McDonald enrolled in the actors union.
The actor says the musical’s big production numbers, such as “A Christmas Song” and its signature “Sparklejollytwinklejingley,” seem especially popular with audiences, even in pre-Thanksgiving shows. The cast has enjoyed seeing theatergoers wear Christmas sweaters to the show and hearing them quote favorite lines along with the characters onstage.
As Deb, whom she describes as “very charactery,” isn’t in those numbers, Jefferies says she likes to get caught up in the magic all over again as she watches from the wings.
Have a Buddy, Buddy Christmas <br> When • Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m., with 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. show on Saturday<br> Where • Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main St., Salt Lake City<br> Tickets • $27-$75 (plus fees), at 801-355-ARTS (2787), artsaltlake.org or the theater box office