School for Elves – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Schools exist to teach everything from architecture to archeology, cooking to crocheting, decorating to dentistry.  But have you ever heard of an institution of learning dedicated to producing the best of Santa’s little helpers?  Pantochino Productions is offering just such a quick course wrapped in red and green finery and wrapped with a gold bow, just in time for Christmas.

Weekends until Friday, December 22, sign up for lessons in their delightful original musical ”School for Elves” at the Milford Center for the Arts at the train station. The Yule School is anxiously awaiting their newest class of students as well as the new headmaster, Mr. Sassafras, a demanding Jimmy Johansmeyer, and the school secretary, a charming Miss Garland, the pert Mary Mannix, is making sure everything will be ready and waiting for his arrival.

All the teachers, Mr. Trimmings (Justin Rugg),Mrs. Wranglesome (Valerie Solli), Mrs. Lessons (Maria Berte), Miss Orderly (Hannah Kupson), Mr. Molasses (George Spelvin), Mrs. Flourish (Hannah Duffy) and Mrs. Claus herself (Shelley Marsh Poggio) are lined up for welcoming   Even Santa (Greg Hatzis) and the reliable package man (Don Poggio) are standing by to meet and greet. With a regal and no-nonsense manner, Mr. Sassafras enters and takes charge, putting the newest class of elves (Ainsley Novin, Connor Rizzo, Sebastian Bianchine, Adeline Horne, Rowan Simonelli, Sierra P. DiMartino, Gavin Conte, Brianna Jackson, Annabel Wardman, Ainsley Dahlstrom and Luke Hatzis) immediately through their paces.

In the midst of all this merriment and excitement, it becomes apparent that there is danger lurking in the form of a mystery man who wants to take over Christmas and move Santa Claus as far away as the South Pole.  When two elves suddenly disappear, it looks like the threat is all too real.  Will the school and the elves be able to rally and save Christmas? With tunes like “There’s a Little Bit of Magic” and “Let’s Make a Christmas to Remember,” everyone works together in the spirit of the holiday and its message of kindness and love.  Even fruitcake is called upon to help with a slice or three.

With original book and lyrics by Bert Bernardi and music by Justin Rugg, with imaginative costuming by Jimmy Johansmeyer, this is another in a string of colorful ornaments strung on Pantochino’s theatrical tree. For tickets ($20 on line, $22 at the door), go to  Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.  Saturday shows are cabaret style and you can bring goodies to share at your table.  A book sale will be held at Barnes and Noble, on the Post Road, in Milford on Friday, December 15 to benefit Pantochino. Come and buy holiday gifts at the bazaar.

Come celebrate  the season and learn how to make tasty candy canes, paint glass ornaments, decorate the tree and attend gift wrapping 101, thanks to the Yule School, School for Elves.