Elf Event Photo

Elf the Musical

A Hilarious Holiday Heartwarmer
Book by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan, Music by Matthew Sklar, Lyrics by Chad Beguelin

Based on the much beloved movie of the same name, this musical adaptation will put you in the holiday spirit! As a child, Buddy Hobbs mistakenly crawls into Santa’s sack of toys and is transported to the North Pole, where he is raised as an elf. Years later, he discovers he is actually a human being, and at Santa’s prompting, sets off to NYC to find his father, Walter Hobbs. Bye, Buddy! Hope you find your dad!


The NMU Department of Theatre and Dance is thrilled to announce that we will be partnering with the NMU Food Pantry for this production to gather donations! The NMU Food Pantry is located in Gries Hall above the Health Center and is open to all NMU students, faculty, and staff who need assistance. The pantry mainly supports students who are experiencing temporary food insecurity. In addition to shelf-stable food, personal care items, dishes, cooking utensils, and cookware are available to shoppers. There is a room within the food pantry that holds bedding, towels, and winterwear that we provide to students who need these necessary items.

While we stock the food pantry with a lot of healthy food - canned fish and meats, plant-based protein, canned fruits and vegetables, milk and plant-based milk, nuts, and dried fruit, we also have most of the items to make Buddy the Elf's favorite breakfast - spaghetti noodles, syrup, and Pop-Tarts. Think back to your college days and recall what you ate - ramen, macaroni and cheese, and lots of canned tuna. Ask your children what they would make for supper if/when they were in college - Spaghettios, bean burritos, grilled cheese, and tomato soup.

Please join NMU Theatre and Dance and the NMU Food Pantry during the holiday season to stock the food pantry with healthy and not-so-healthy items for students in need! There will be a donation area in the Forest Roberts Theatre lobby throughout November and December for patrons to drop off donations; we appreciate all of your support this holiday season! 

Friday, December 3rd at 8:00pm - Opening Night Party
Saturday, December 4th at 2:00pm - THEATRE FOR ALL PERFORMANCE

Saturday, December 4th at 8:00pm
Wednesday, December 8th at 8:00pm
Thursday, December 9th at 8:00pm
Friday, December 10th at 8:00pm
Saturday, December 11th at 8:00pm

Location: Forest Roberts Theatre

Tickets are $17 for General Public, $12 for NMU Faculty/Staff, Seniors, and Military, $10 for Students, and $5 for NMU Students.


Musical Numbers



Overture - Orchestra
Happy All The Time - Santa, Buddy, Ensemble
Not Happy All The Time - Buddy
World's Greatest Dad - Buddy
In The Way - Deb, Walter, Emily, Michael, Ensemble
Sparklejollytwinklejingley - Buddy, Jovie, Manager, Ensemble
Goodnight, Jovie - Buddy
I'll Believe In You - Michael, Emily
In The Way (Reprise) - Emily, Walter
Just Like Him - Buddy, Deb, Walter, Ensemble
A Christmas Song - Buddy, Jovie, Ensemble
World's Greatest Dad (Reprise) - Buddy, Ensemble


Entr'acte - Orchestra
Nobody Cares About Santa - Buddy, Manager, Ensemble
Never Fall In Love (With An Elf) - Jovie
There Is A Santa Claus - Michael, Emily
The Story of Buddy - Buddy, Walter, Greenway, Deb, Michael, Emily, Matthews, Chadwick, Ensemble
The Story of Buddy (Playoff) - Walter, Deb, Michael, Emily, Greenway, Buddy, Ensemble
Nobody Cares (Santa's Reprise) - Santa
A Christmas Song (Reprise) - Jovie, Walter, Michael, Emily, Ensemble
Finale - Part 1 - Buddy, Jovie, Walter, Emily, Michael, Santa
Finale - Part 2 - Full Company
Bows - Full Company

Cast List


Buddy Ethan Puisto
Jovie Sophie Shrauger
Walter Hobbs DaShawn Mitchell
Emily Hobbs Sara Parks
Michael Hobbs Nate Wood
Deb Rebecca Piepszak
Manager Amarae' Robinson
Greenway Maya Moreau
Santa Jason Parks
Charlie Dustin Golden
Tiara Lexi Reese
Matthews Quinn Skelly
Chadwick John Thomson
Fake Santa Dawson Del Preto
Charlotte Zoe Hajec
Mrs. Claus Gracie Fries
Ensemble Gracie Fries, Reya Ghiardi, Zoe Hajec, Dustin Golden, Sylvia Gravel, Maya Moreau, Jason Parks,
Dawson Del Preto, Rebecca Piepszak, Lexi Reese, Amarae' Robinson, Quinn Skelly, Kyra Skinner,
Logan Stoner, John Thomson

Creative Team


Director Hunter Foster
Choreographer Jill Grundstrom
Assistant Choreographer Skylar Taavola
Vocal Music Director Dr. Donna Schaffer
Assistant Vocal Music Director Caitlin Palomaki
Pit Conductor Dr. Erin Colwitz
Scenic Designer Lex van Blommestein
Assistant Scenic Designers Sylvia Bednarczyk, Erin Hope
Lighting Designer Megan Hibbard
Costume Designer Joel Shinavier
Media Designer Dan Zini
Sound Designer William Squires IV
Supervising Sound Designer Dan Zini
Properties Designer Keli Crawford-Truckey
Production Stage Manager Toni Danz
Technical Director Braeden Ingersoll


† Indicates membership in Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society.

Pit Orchestra


Reed 1 Kristi Falardeau, Mya Ackley
Reed 2 Owen Edwards, Abby O'Connell
Reed 3 Amorette Languell
Clarinet Heide Gallagher
Violin Debbie Carlson, Bella Chiodi
Cello Tyleur Wright
Trumpet Noah Swart
Trombone Micah Erickson
Keyboards Chloe Hall, Donna Schaffer
Drums Ryan Patrick Wilson
Bass Oskar Gaenssle
Percussion Eve Hutchison, Darren Hicks

Additional Artistic Staff


Stage Managers Emma Block, Bryson Krieger, Sam Wardisiani
Cover Conductor Caitlin Palomaki
Dance Captain Gracie Fries
Fight Captain Rebecca Piepszak
Deck Chief Bryson Krieger
Master Electrician Marla Alden
Audio 2 Sebastian DeWitt
Run Crew Lila Bartkowiak, Isabella Manganello
Fly Rail Operator Seth Bowen
Turntable Operator Ethan Rickert
Spotlight Operators Dane Krusick, Keely-Shaye Hanson
Dresser Gianna Bratke


† Indicates membership in Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society.

Forest Roberts Theatre Professional Staff


Producer Bill Digneit
Directors of Theatre and Dance Jill Grundstrom and Bill Digneit
Production Manager David Pierce
Technical Director and Scene Shop Supervisor Braeden Ingersoll
Properties Artisan Keli Crawford-Truckey
Scenic/Paint Supervisor Lex van Blommestein
Master Carpenter Emily Kendall
Costume Shop Supervisor Ann Juidici
Lighting Supervisor David Pierce
Sound and Media Supervisor Dan Zini
Marketing/Box Office Manager Lilith Kontos

Forest Roberts Theatre Staff


Scene Shop Student Supervisor Seth Bowen
Scene Shop Technicians Sylvia Bednarczyk, Emma Block, Tyler Crowley, Bryson Krieger, Noah Proctor, Ethan Rickert, Samantha Wardisiani
Costume Shop Student Supervisor Joel Shinavier
Costume Shop Staff Gianna Bratke, Ella Bartlett Filipowicz, Rhiannyn McCauley, Amelia Rhinerson, Suzanne Shahbazi, Elise Wilcox
Electrics Student Supervisors Marla Alden, Megan Hibbard
Sound/Media Student Supervisor William Squires IV
Electrics/Sound Technicians Ryan Harvey, Erin Hope, DaShawn Mitchell, Amarae' Robinson
Marketing/Box Office Staff Tyler Crowley, Toni Danz, Erin Hope, Clair Kaminski, Makenzie Rea, Sophie Sam, Logan Stoner


† Indicates membership in Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honor Society.

Cast Bios


Ethan Puisto (Buddy) is a music major that has been performing consistently for the past 15 years. He was a theatre major at the Chicago College of Performing Arts from 2017-2018, and was a member of Northwestern University’s Cherubs Theatre Department. Ethan plays music professionally, and is enrolled in the music production major here at NMU. Ethan involves himself in all things music-related, and has been enjoying the most recent season of “What We Do in the Shadows," only on FX. “I only find freedom in the realms of eccentricity.” -David Bowie

Sophie Shrauger (Jovie) is a second year BFA Musical Theatre student, and is so excited to be playing the role of Jovie! She has been in a multitude of past productions here at NMU, and can be seen in The Wolves and The Producers this spring! Sophie would like to thank the entire production team, cast, and Hunter for all of their hard work bringing this show to life. She also wants to extend a special thank you to her parents, who have continuously offered their love and support of her passion. Portraying Jovie has been an absolute honor, and Sophie could not be more grateful for such an incredible opportunity. She hopes that you enjoy the show! 

DaShawn Mitchell (Walter Hobbs) is a freshman in the musical theatre program here at NMU. DaShawn has only played Sam in Above the Timberline so far, but looks forward to not only the rest of this year, but the remainder of his time at Northern. In what little free time he has, he works in the FRT Electrics Shop.

Sara Parks (Emily Hobbs) has been actively performing in the Marquette area for many years, where she lives with her husband and two amazing children. Sara has a Bachelor's of Music Education from Northern Michigan University and is currently a full-time music teacher. Sara’s favorite performances include A Christmas Story (Forest Roberts Theatre), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Vista Theatre), Godspell (Lake Superior Theatre), Into the Woods (Forest Roberts Theatre), Pippin (Lake Superior Theatre), and Les Miserables (Forest Roberts Theatre). She has also worked as a Music Director for Superior Arts Youth Theater. Sara is excited to share the stage with her husband, Jason (Santa), in this production of Elf the Musical.

Nate Wood (Michael Hobbs) is 13 years old and in eighth grade at Bothwell Middle School. He has been in many Superior Arts Youth Theater and NMU productions, including Disney's Descendants: The Musical, A Christmas Story, Matilda, Scrooge!, Into the Woods, Shrek The Musical, High School Musical Jr., and Peter Pan among others. When he's not performing, Nate enjoys skiing at Marquette Mountain.

Amarae’ Robinson (Manager, Ensemble) is a first year BFA Musical Theatre major who also works in technical theatre. Here at the FRT, she has appeared as Linnea in Above the Timberline. Some of her favorite previous appearances have been as Dr. Livingstone in Agnes of God and ‘Chelle in Detroit '67 (Crossroads Repertory Theater). She has also appeared as Don Poccolino in Bamboozled and Daniella in In the Heights (Avondale Theater Company).

Jason Parks (Santa, Ensemble) has a bachelor's degree in social work from Northern Michigan University. He has appeared in multiple productions in the community, including Building Madness (Forest Roberts Theatre), A Christmas Story (Forest Roberts Theatre), Beacon on the Rock (Lake Superior Theatre), and Scrooge! (Forest Roberts Theatre). He is excited to be sharing the stage again with his wife, Sara. Jason has two wonderful children and enjoys photography and music.

Lexi Reese (Tiara, Ensemble) is pursuing an Associate of Arts in Theatre Performance and is a freshman at Northern Michigan University. She has appeared in community theatre performances in her hometown such as Shrek The Musical, Nunsense, Seussical, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and other singing performances.

Dawson Del Preto (Fake Santa, Ensemble) is beginning his fourth year at NMU. He is very grateful to be performing in a live production again after a two year hiatus! His last role in an in-person theatrical setting was Maurice in Beauty and the Beast (Forest Roberts Theatre). He would like to thank his mom, dad, siblings, and cousins for their love and support. Dawson is pursuing a major in piano performance and a minor in theatre.

Zoe Hajec (Charlotte, Ensemble) is a first-year BFA Musical Theatre student at Northern Michigan University. She has appeared in the Spotlight Variety Show and Above the Timberline so far, and will be performing in The Wolves and working on crew for The Producers in the spring. Zoe is a first-generation college student, loves to write and direct when not onstage, and is interested in sign language. She is very excited to have made Northern her home.

Gracie Fries (Mrs. Claus/Ensemble) is a senior pursuing a Bachelor's in Dance with a business concentration. Her passion lies in the musical arts with twenty-one years of dance instruction and vocal lessons. She spent high school teaching at Julie’s Top Hat Dance Studio and is currently teaching at both Julie’s and Dawn Dott Dance Studio. She was a pro-dancer in “Dancing With Our Stars Marquette County Style, Disney Edition” (2019) and co-choreographer for SAYT's production of Frozen Jr. (2019). Gracie has performed in several FRT productions including Rock the FRT, Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, What We Leave Behind, and the Above the Timberline. Her latest work was showcased in CO/LAB COLLECTIVE, in which she choreographed and performed with her band to “Thunderstruck.” Her hobbies include singing, playing bass, baking, gardening, and spending time with the people she loves. Being one of the first of her family to attend college, she is proud to be a Wildcat with much support from her family, friends, and the Theatre and Dance Department faculty! 

Reya Ghiardi (Ensemble), 13, is in eighth grade at Bothwell. Reya’s first theatrical experience was in 2014 with SAYT’s production of Music Man Jr. (Gracie Shinn). Other notable productions through SAYT include Lion King Jr. (Young Simba), Alice in Wonderland Jr. (Cheshire Cat), Newsies (Manhattan Newsie/Ike), Into the Woods Jr. (Cinderella), Frozen Jr. (Olaf), and Disney's Descendants: The Musical (Mal). Her first NMU theatre experience was The Secret Garden (Ensemble), followed by Scrooge! (Kathy Cratchit) and Beauty and the Beast (Chip). She thanks her family for their endless enthusiasm, and both NMU and SAYT for their support!

Sylvia Gravel (Ensemble) is a third year student studying dance with a minor in biology. She has been dancing from a young age and is a captain on the NMU Dance Team. Previously, she has performed in the Spotlight Variety Show, North Coast Dance Festival, and with the CO/LAB COLLECTIVE. Sylvia is incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work on such an iconic show and hopes you enjoy it!

Kyra Skinner (Ensemble) is a third year student at NMU and has been dancing for 17 years. She was born and raised in the U.P. (Pickford, MI) and is working towards two degrees, one in dance and the other in psychology with a developmental concentration. She is also a co-captain of the NMU Hip Hop Dance Crew which she has been a part of for three years. This is her first time in a musical and she's loved learning the process of putting a show together. Kyra has had so much fun working with the cast and making new friends, and feels very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter Foster. She welcomes everyone to see the joyful and hilarious show that is Elf the Musical and cannot wait for everyone to see the hard work and love that has been put into it!

Logan Stoner (Ensemble) is a sophomore dance major at NMU from Kalamazoo, MI. She has been dancing for five years. Previous performances include the North Coast Dance Festival and CO/LAB COLLECTIVE, in which she also made her debut as a choreographer. Outside of dance, Logan enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and traveling. She wants to thank her parents and the Theatre and Dance Department faculty. She also wants to thank Hunter Foster for directing her first ever appearance in a musical. Logan hopes you enjoy this amazing, hilarious, and joyful show! 

Creative Team Bios


Hunter Foster (Director) is a director, actor, and librettist who has worked on Broadway and throughout the country. He directed The Other Josh Cohen off-Broadway at the West Side theatre in NYC and was named the 2018 “Director of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal for his productions of 42nd Street at the Bucks County Playhouse and The Drowsy Chaperone at the Goodspeed Opera House. Other directing credits include: Guys and Dolls, Our Town (Theatre Aspen), The Other Josh Cohen (Geva Theatre), Once, Cabaret, My Fair Lady, The Foreigner, Clue (Cape Playhouse), Grease (North Carolina Theatre), Spamalot (Casa Manana), Into the Woods, and Beauty and the Beast (Western Carolina). Hunter has also directed over 20 productions around the country of Million Dollar Quartet for such esteemed theatres as The Paper Mill Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, Geva Theatre, and St. Louis Rep. As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway in The Bridges of Madison County, Hands on a Hardbody, The Million Dollar Quartet, The Producers, Little Shop of Horrors (Tony Nomination), Urinetown, Footloose, Les Miserables, King David, Pump Boys & Dinettes, and Grease.

Jill Grundstrom (Choreographer) has a B.S. from NMU in Secondary Education with majors in English and French, a M.A. in Dance Education from New York University, and an Ed.S. from NMU in Educational Leadership. She is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Dance Education with a concentration in Movement Science at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as assisting with new Character Dance and Partnering curricula for American Ballet Theatre (America’s National Ballet Company®) in New York City. She is certified in the Luigi Jazz Technique, American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum, is a Certified FLX Conditioning Specialist, and a Hamrick Method Master Trainer. Jill has choreographed over 30 full-length musical and dance productions in New York City, Los Angeles, Italy, and here in the Upper Peninsula, including a full-length, original ballet, East of the Sun, West of the Moon (NMU). She also choreographed an independent feature-length film, Our State Fair. She has previously worked with Superior Arts Youth Theatre, the National Dance Education Organization, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, and Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance

Donna Schaffer (Vocal Music Director) is currently serving as the Choir Director at Ishpeming Public Schools and Assistant Professor of Voice at Northern Michigan University. Prior to this appointment, she served as Director of Choral Activities at Allen University in Columbia, SC, Director of Choral Activities and Vocal Instructor at Alcorn State University in Lorman, MS, a lecturer in voice at the University of Connecticut, and Music Director for the Shreveport Opera, among other positions. Ms. Schaffer holds fast to the simple teaching philosophy of Nelson Mandela. This proverb states, “Each one teach one.” Donna holds a Bachelor's of Music from the University of Michigan, a Master's of Music from the University of Connecticut, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at USC under the tutelage of Dr. Larry Wyatt.

Lex van Blommestein (Scenic Designer) is a theatre designer based out of Marquette, MI. While he currently teaches at Northern, he also maintains a prolific national and international design career. Lex earned his MFA from Wayne State University's Hilberry Repertory Program in Detroit, and has lived, designed, and taught in Edwardsville, IL; St. Louis, MO; Cincinatti, OH; Raleigh, NC; Memphis, TN; Milwaukee, WI; Detroit, MI; Lansing, MI; Windsor, ON; and Amsterdam, NL, to name a few. In addition to his love for scenic design, he enjoys using design to explore audience reaction, interaction, and emotion, and to create experiences involving virtual reality and augmented reality as well as immersive design.

Megan Hibbard (Lighting Designer) is a senior BA Theatre student with a focus in lighting design and a minor in art and design. She loves to be on and behind the FRT stage! In the past she has performed as Lisa in Mamma Mia!, performed as a dancer and worked as a choreographer and assistant lighting designer for What We Leave Behind, and performed as Bombalurina and worked as assistant lighting designer on Cats. Her latest designs include North x North Coast, Spotlight Variety ShowNorth Coast Dance Festival and now Elf the Musical! Megan wants to thank the entire production crew and her friends and family for all of their support. 

Joel Shinavier (Costume Designer) is a senior BFA Theatre Technology and Design major from Grand Rapids, MI. He has been a part of many productions throughout his time at Northern, working backstage as a Wardrobe Supervisor, in the FRT Costume Shop helping to build the shows, or designing. Outside of NMU, Joel has has the opportunity to work with Mason Street Warehouse Theater at Saugatuck Center for the Arts in downstate Michigan for two summer seasons.

William Squires IV (Sound Designer) is stoked to be working on Elf the Musical. William grew up in Hoffman Estates, IL where he began his love for theatre at the age of 8. This past summer, he worked at Williamstown Theatre Festival mixing for Celebrating the Black Radical Imagination: Nine Solo Plays. He is currently a senior at NMU and the Sound/Media Student Supervisor. William would like to thank his family for all of their support and give a huge shoutout to Dan Zini for mentoring him throughout this process. 

Keli Crawford-Truckey (Properties Designer) serves as a teacher, director, and properties master at NMU. Recent FRT directing credits include The Full MontyProofSweeney ToddBearsDoubtHarvey, and Into the Woods. She has worked as a stage manager/staff member on the Broadway and national touring companies of Les Miserables, and on off-Broadway productions including And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little at the Producers Club and Cloud Nine at the Bank Street Theatre in NYC. Keli holds a degree in Directing and Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 

Braeden Ingersoll (Technical Director) originates from Des Moines Iowa and recently received his MFA in Technical Production from Florida State University, where he strove to advance his knowledge in the industry and as an educator. Prior professional credits include Technical Director for Des Moines Metro Opera & Theatre Aspen and Assistant Technical Director for Creede Repertory Theatre. Braeden is also an active member of the United States' Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) having served as President for a Graduate Student Chapter & earning the Director's Choice Award for the USITT/ASTC (American Society of Theatre Consultants) Renovation Challenge in 2019. 

Toni Danz (Production Stage Manager) is a senior at NMU this year. She is on her way to graduating this spring with her BFA in Theatre Technology and Design. Working on Elf the Musical has been such an amazing experience and she is so grateful for this opportunity. She hopes everyone has a SparkleJollyTwinkle-y holiday season!

Skylar Taavola (Assistant Choreographer) is a senior majoring in management of health and fitness with a minor in dance. Previous NMU Theatre and Dance shows she has been a part of include East of the Sun, West of the Moon, What We Leave Behind, North x North Coast, the North Coast Dance Festival, and CO/LAB COLLECTIVE. Skylar is currently the president and choreographer of the NMU Dance Team. She enjoys teaching various styles of dance and gymnastics at New Attitudes Dance Studios. Her favorite class to teach is Shooting Starz, an integrative dance program for children with special needs. She has also been a choreographer for Marquette’s Nutcracker Ballet and Superior Arts Youth Theater. Skylar is very thankful and excited for this new opportunity to assistant choreograph NMU's production of Elf the Musical!

Sylvia Bednarczyk (she/her) (Assistant Scenic Designer) is a junior BFA Theatre Technology and Design student from Oak Lawn, IL. Sylvia is primarily a stage manager and scenic carpenter, and is currently the Production Stage Manager for the Forest Roberts Theatre’s Next to Normal. Recently, she was the Assistant Stage Manager for Oak Park Festival Theatre’s The Tempest. Sylvia’s other credits at NMU include Assistant Stage Manager for Romeo and Juliet, Properties Designer for an/one’s ivory tower, and Production Manager for North x North Coast.

Erin Hope (Assistant Scenic Designer) is from Kalamazoo, MI, pursuing a BA in Theatre and Entertainment Arts with minors in English and deaf studies. This is her third year attending NMU, and she has worked on previous shows such as Above the Timberline (Assistant Media Designer), Romeo and Juliet (Script Supervisor), and Twelfth Night (Builder, Painter, and Run Crew). She is thrilled to be working on her first musical, and wants to wish everyone a happy holiday.

Emma Block (Stage Manager) is a senior theatre and entertainment arts major and she is thrilled to be one of the stage managers for Elf the Musical! Her previous work at NMU includes A Christmas Story (Ensemble), Significant Other (Run Crew), North x North Coast (Stage Manager for What If), Spotlight Variety Show (Assistant Stage Manager), and North Coast Dance Festival (Assistant Stage Manager). Emma would like to thank her family, friends, boyfriend, NMU theatre and dance faculty, and her classmates for always being supportive of her dreams and journey here at NMU!

Bryson Krieger (Stage Manager) is a physics major and a theatre and entertainment arts minor at NMU. Bryson has taken part in many different stage productions in the past including NMU’s Above the Timberline as the puppeteer for the head of Lump the polar bear. Always being onstage, he has never had the opportunity to be part of the production team, so he is excited to take on the roles of Stage Manager and Deck Chief. He would like to thank his family for watching Elf with him every year and for supporting him in his theatrical endeavors.

Sam Wardisiani (Stage Manager) is a sophomore BFA Theatre Technology and Design student from Midlothian, IL. Recently Sam has worked on the Spotlight Variety Show (Assistant Lighting Designer) and CO/LAB COLLECTIVE (Assistant Stage Manager). In her free time, she builds and paints in the scene shop. She is excited to be working in the shop and seeing her work used in the show. She wants to thank her friends, family, and teachers for all of their support!