By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Nov 23, 2016 at 3:03 PM

There is nothing like the holidays in Milwaukee. VISIT Milwaukee is here to share your top shopping destinations, must-see holiday shows, where to meet Kris Kringle and local gifts you can't resist. Tune in all month long and 'tis the season!

When you get down to it, the whole thing is really pretty simple as we all find out from an elf named Buddy. It’s not the reindeer or robots or gas powered secret vehicles. "Christmas spirit is what makes your sleigh fly," the tall elf says to Santa Claus while hanging out in a workshop at the North Pole. "Christmas spirit."

Well, the Christmas spirit may not be in full swing yet in Milwaukee, but it's getting a good start the week-long run of "Elf," the Broadway musical based on the 2003 Will Ferrell movie.

A capacity crowd, liberally dotted with little girls dressed to sparkle and shine, loved every second of the production, which has enough jokes to keep adults happy and enough big Broadway dancing and singing to keep the little ones paying attention.

At almost 80 minutes, the first act may be a little long when coupled with a 20-minute intermission, but the play is just a lot of fun with enough moments to give everyone a little bit of choke-up opportunity.

Buddy is an abnormally tall elf hard at work in Santa's North Pole workshop, but the obvious truth eventually comes out: He is really a human being, not an elf. His birth father lives in New York, so Buddy decides to ask Santa for directions.

"It’s south, Buddy," Santa says. "We are the North Pole. Everything is south."

So Buddy (Sam Hartley, a Will Ferrell clone) takes off for the big city where he finds work at Macy’s, love with a girl named Jovie (a cute and sultry Mia Weinberger) and a family that resists this odd duck but eventually warms to him, overwhelmed by the spirit of Christmas.

This is a typical Broadway production, one that enjoyed holiday runs in New York for a couple of seasons and has been a big touring hit. It’s got lots of singing and lots of dancing and big production numbers with a spot-on cast of young talent.

Nobody will ever mistake this for an Andrew Lloyd Webber songbook, but it has its moments.

Perhaps the nicest moment takes place between Emily and Michael, the wife and son of the workaholic Walter who is Buddy’s dad. Buddy prompts them to write a letter to a Santa they are both skeptical about. They sing a lovely ballad called "I’ll Believe in You."

I don’t want a check
That’s made out to cash
Or a corporate re-gift
From some secret stash
I’d like a day with my dad

Just a day?

Make that Two.
If you can do that Santa
I’ll believe in  you.

I don’t want a trip
To some hip salon
Or a trendy perfume
I’ll never put on.
I’d like to feel like he cares

Even if it’s not true?

If  you can do that Santa
I’ll believe in you.

Belief is what the holiday season is really about and this production provides a wide variety of chances to believe. And you can’t ask much more than that for a holiday musical.

"Elf" runs through Nov. 27 and information on tickets and showtimes is available here.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.