SALT LAKE CITY — Celebrating Christmas every night is a joy for Utahn Heather Jefferies, even if she started celebrating with rehearsals in October.
Jefferies is currently playing the character Deb in the touring production of "Elf The Musical," which will be at the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater Nov. 24-26.
In a recent phone interview, Jefferies spoke about being on the road, sharing the stage with Buddy the Elf and the fun of bringing the joy of Christmas to audiences all over the country. She had just finished a run in Muncie, Indiana, where she witnessed theatergoers embracing the Christmas spirit early — many of them in holiday sweaters.
“It was so fun to look out at the crowd and see their smiling faces,” Jefferies said. “We all look for an excuse to be joyous early every year. ‘Elf’ really helps you get into the Christmas spirit.”
In this musical adaptation of the popular 2003 Will Ferrell Christmas movie, a young orphan named Buddy mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the fact that he is not actually an elf.
With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
As Buddy’s dad’s secretary, Jefferies sings a song every night on stage with Buddy called, “Just Like Him.” In the number, Deb introduces Buddy to the shredder, where he makes “snow.”
“I always have this moment where I stop and look around, and it feels like magic,” Jefferies said. “The snow is falling, and all the employees start dancing and letting loose. You can’t help but smile.”
Jefferies graduated in April from Brigham Young University’s Music Dance Theater program, and “Elf” is her first professional gig. She originally planned to get married on Nov. 20, but she credits her supportive fiancé for agreeing to delay their nuptials until the day after the tour is over, on Jan. 1.
Salt Lake will be a welcome homecoming for Jefferies, who will be reunited with her fiancé and family during the musical’s short run at the Eccles. Salt Lake is one of 26 cities Jefferies and the "Elf" company will visit by bus between Nov. 7-Dec. 31. That’s a lot of time on the bus crisscrossing the country.
But that’s not a problem for Jefferies. She admits that while all the travel can be a challenge, she’s enjoying every minute of the tour.
“It’s hard to have a bad day when you’re doing this show,” Jefferies said. “It’s so positive, and I’m so lucky that I get to be a part of such a happy show on tour.”
If you go
What: “Elf The Musical”
When: Nov. 24-26, times vary
Where: The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main St.
How much: $30-$90
Leigh Gibson owns every Broadway musical cast recording money can buy, and visits New York City with her husband at least once a year to see all of the new shows. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.