Matthew Sklar Talks Making Music for "Elf: The Broadway Musical", Buddy the Elf's Playlist, and More
Thu, 17 Nov 2011 09:14:56
Will Ferrell Videos
Elf remains a modern Christmas classic.
However, the Broadway musical based on the film brings the story to life like never before. Given the original movie's whimsical rhythm, adding a complete soundtrack enhances this holiday tale even more on stage. You can relive this marvelous modern musical right now on Elf: The Broadway Musical album featuring the original cast. It makes for the perfect gift this holiday season. It's like the ultimate 21st century Christmas album…
Matthew Sklar is the man behind that music. In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief and Dolor author Rick Florino spoke to Sklar all about the Elf soundtrack, Buddy the Elf's playslist, and so much more.
When composing for Elf, which impacted your musical choices, the characters or the music?
Being true to the character should always come first. In this case, Buddy the Elf is a larger-than-life, over-the-top, crazy-happy guy who just loves to sing all the time. I pictured him running around singing upbeat show tunes that glisten. So the score sort of evolved into my "Christmas-y" take on a big, brassy, Broadway sound.
As a composer, what was the most challenging aspect of this score?
It was challenging to create songs that feel like they belong in the lexicon of traditional Christmas music, yet act as true musical theatre songs, moving the plot forward and revealing character. One of my favorite songs in the show is called "I'll Believe In You". In that song, Walter's wife, Emily, and their son, Michael, are pressured by Buddy into writing a letter to Santa. They decide to write a letter describing what they don't want for Christmas. They don't want material things. What they do want is to spend more time with Walter, who is consumed with work and becoming very distant. This song could have turned very sentimental and syrupy - but we played against that by setting it as a light, jazz waltz. Doug Besterman's orchestration is beautiful and strikes just the right tone.
Are there any songs that Buddy the Elf reminds you of? What would be on his playlist?
I think Buddy would have a red and green iPod that has version after version of the great Christmas songs: "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", "Rudolph", "Frosty", "Holly Jolly Christmas", "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", "Jingle Bells", etc. And the album Ella's Wishing You a Swinging Christmas—which is absolute genius.
What initially appealed to you about the story itself? Did it lend itself to music easily?
When I first saw the movie, I just loved it and thought it was very special. Will Ferrell gave an absolutely genius performance and I loved the writing and direction. What surprised and thrilled me, was that I truly cared about all of the characters. I was completely 100% invested. If a movie can make an audience belly laugh, but also emotionally connect - it's an achievement. I do think the story is inherently musical. One of the big lines in the movie is Buddy saying "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" That's a song cue if I ever heard one!
Did you have a favorite moment in the original film?
I can never NOT laugh when Buddy is at the department store and yells, "Santa, I know him!"
What's next for you?
I'm working on two new projects that are both original ideas and in early stages of development. Very excited about both of them.
Will you be getting this soundtrack?
See behind-the-scenes video of recording the album here!