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Monday, December 18 Entertainment

‘The Christmas Elf’ on stage at Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret Theatre

When it comes to what inspired Phil Hill to write the new holiday show, “The Christmas Elf,” Hill said he has to be honest. (After all, he doesn’t want to wind up on Santa’s naughty list.)

It’s no secret inspiration comes from everywhere, he said, discussing the musical on stage this month at Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret Theatre. He has often found he can see an image or hear a song and build an entire production from the experience.

“I’d be lying if I said this show wasn’t at least partly inspired by the current ‘Elf on a Shelf’ craze, and I remember years ago seeing a listicle, on Buzzfeed of all places, where parents had staged their elves in clever and funny ways,” he said via email. “I remember one of the pictures was set up to look like a group of toys had taken their elf hostage.”

Hill thought that was kind of funny, so he mixed in a nod to “Toy Story” with some fun music, and 50 or so pages of dialogue later, “The Christmas Elf” was born. On stage through Thursday, Dec. 28, it’s about what happens when Santa’s elves — who’ve been busy seeing who has been naughty and who has been nice — discover that not everyone wants Christmas to arrive.

One clever elf is met by some concerned toys who are worried about being replaced in this imaginative production directed by Frank Root. Hill, artistic director for the DCT Children’s Company, said he always tries to keep the whole family in mind when writing his shows.

More Information

The Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport. Through Saturday, Dec. 23. Saturday noon and 2:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 and 3:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 27, and Thursday, Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m. Adults $23, children $19. 203-576-1636, mycabaret.org

“One of my biggest influences is Pixar, and no one does all-inclusive stories better than they do, and I spend a lot of time picking apart how they do it,” the playwright said. “This show is chock full of fun characters, music, humor and surprises that audiences of all ages” are sure to enjoy.

An alumnus of North Carolina’s Elon University, with a degree in theater design and production, Hill said he got into writing a few years ago. “I wrote and submitted a script for a children’s version of ‘Robin Hood’ as a sort of bucket-list ‘let’s see what happens when I try writing’ experiment. It was surprisingly well-received and paved the way for opportunities to write other shows. Now 15 shows later, I think I’m starting to get the hang of it,” he said.

Hill said the most challenging part of DCT’s Children’s Company productions is that all the shows are brand-new, so no one knows exactly how the audience will react until opening day. Luckily, he said, the DCT “is filled with talented, smart and funny people with decades of experience in children’s theater,” so folks can always expect a great time.

“The Christmas Elf” runs approximately 75 to 80 minutes, with a 10-minute intermission.

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lkoonz@newstimes.com; Twitter: @LindaTKoonz

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