Introduce Yourself(ie): 10 Questions with Elf Star Erik Gratton
December 11th, 2017
by Erik Gratton
Erik Gratton brings holiday cheer to New York audiences as Buddy the Elf in the colorful, joyful, musical adaptation of Elf. After touring the country as everyone's favorite larger-than-life elf, Erik brings his performance to NYC for a sit-down run at The Theater at Madison Square Garden through December 29.
Scroll on as BroadwayBox gets to know Erik a bit better as he discusses his four-hour Elf warm up, the movie line fans quote most at him, and his former life as a pastry chef to rock stars.
1. Buddy the Elf is a ball of energy and happiness. How do you get your body and head space ready for this marathon:
It's the most physically crazy role I've ever played. I start vocal and physical warm-ups about 4 hours before curtain with a 20-min aerobic workout, usually on the stationary bike. Then vocalizing lightly, starting in soft falsetto and then 20 minutes with my face in the steamer. Then some hot peppermint tea and still-soft singing, scales. Then I get to the theater and take a hot steam shower and softly sing through a warm-up playlist on Spotify, lots of soprano-y and high tenor stuff. Curtis Mayfield, "Bang Bang," Maroon 5, Heathers Cast Album. Then more steam and some goofy dancing and get into costume. Buddy has nine major songs and sings with everybody in a few more. I'm very protective of my voice these days.
2. What film line do people quote at you most often when they find out you’re Buddy the Elf:
Definitely "I know him! I KNOW HIM!"
3. What was your first trip to NYC like:
Ha, very quick for auditions. Then rehearsal went fast too. I lived in NYC from 2003-2010 and miss it (and my friends there) very much but I haven't had much time during the Elf process to see NYC (or them). Hopeful after we open at MSG I'll be able to get out more.
4. What’s your favorite holiday tradition:
Usually the family gathers wherever my brother is. He owns a catering business that tours with rock bands. When I worked with him, the whole family would join us in Seattle or Little Rock or Phoenix; wherever we'd happen to be. This year my girlfriend, Krista, and I will be orphans in NYC. We'll find something great to do.
5. What was your most extravagant experience as a celebrity pastry chef:
My oldest brother and I got our first tattoos together on a tour stop in Chicago, along with some amazing musicians we'd been listening to since we were kids. That was pretty great.
6. What’s been most interesting about touring the country with Elf? What have you learned from it:
The lessons I've learned mostly revolve around handling the difficulties of maintaining health and focus away from home and kitchen. It's important to establish and maintain some routine in your schedule. Also, this play and this character are IMPORTANT to people! They show me that from the audience and in social media all the time. Buddy is family to so many folks.
7. Five things always in your suitcase when you’re touring:
Tennis balls, comic books, apples, clean socks, & water bottle.
8. What movie can you watch over and over and always laugh:
Raising Arizona is a pretty good bet. Or Ernst Lubitsch's original To Be or Not To Be. The dialogue, performances, messages: all perfect and timeless. Holly Hunter and Carole Lombard are perfect. I screamed with laughter and joy all through the newest "xXx" sequel and I've watched it three times in the last month. Everyone was having so much fun.
9. Your pick for ultimate (Non-Elf) Christmas movie:
I love Scrooged. Carol Kane is a genius. I've seen David Johanssen in concert a couple wonderful times. Alfre Woodard is the best actor in the world. And Bill Murray is Bill Murray. Pure love.
10. What’s one thing on your wish list this year?
I'm pretty easy. I like movies and books and the next gig.
Don't miss Erik Gratton as Buddy the Elf in 'ELf' at The Theater at Madison Square Garden through December 29.