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    A musical based on the Will Ferrell film runs through Dec. 16 at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. Unlike far too many stage shows adapted from popular films, “Elf, The Musical” isn’t slavishly loyal to everything that happens in the 2003 Will Ferrell hit “Elf.” And that’s a good thing by allowing the writers some creative originality. Yes, it’s still about Buddy, raised by elves at Santa’s North Pole workshop, who discovers he’s actually human and returns to New York to meet the overworked birth father who never knew he had a son. Along the way, Buddy spreads the Christmas spirit and transforms lives, ensuring Santa can continue to deliver toys to good children all around the world. The musical follows the same general storyline but with a sweeter tone, fewer physical pratfalls and a stronger message of spreading joy and the importance of giving. With a script by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, based on the screenplay by David Berenbaum, and with music by Matthew Sklar and often funny lyrics by Chad Beguelin, “Elf, the Musical” should charm audiences at the Manatee Players. Get your tickets here. 

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