Erik Gratton's resume is well-rounded, to say the least. It runs the gamut from Hamlet to Shrek to Wilbur the Pig to a cowardly beaver on TV's "Grimm." For the holidays, the versatile actor is having the time of his life playing Buddy in "Elf the Musical" on stage Nov. 28-Dec. 10 at the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston.
Buddy is the orphan child who mistakenly crawls in Santa's bag of gifts and finds himself at the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy's enormous size and poor toy-making talents force him to face the truth and embark on a trip to New York City to find his birth father.
"Playing Buddy is some of the most fun I've ever had -- I get to spend 2 1/2 hours each night running around and enjoying myself," said the amiable Gratton by phone last week.
Buddy, of course, was first made famous on film by Will Farrell in 2003. And while Gratton, the actor, is committed to making his Buddy his own, he realizes that audiences expect certain aspects of the character that Farrell created.
"When I take on an iconic role, I try to play it my own way. That was easy with Hamlet. But 'Elf' is more recent and people expect some of Will Farrell, so there are 12 jokes or so from the movie that stay true to him," said Gratton.
George Wendt, Norm of "Cheers" fame, will join the cast in Boston as Santa Claus. And Gratton is looking forward to playing opposite him.
"I look forward to working with him -- he went to the same college as my dad, so that will be fun to share with him," said Gratton.
Now based in California, Gratton has worked around the country, including several stints in New England at the Bangor Opera House in Maine and North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, where he did "Taming of the Shrew" and "A Christmas Carol."
"I love playing big, tall, goofy characters like Buddy -- and I love doing musicals," he said. And "Elf" is a perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.
"It's all about finding a way to be happy," said Gratton, who's pretty happy himself bringing "Elf" to Boston.
On the marquee
HOLIDAY ON ICE: Cirque du Soleil brings its dramatic artistry and unique creativity onto the ice in a new show "Crystal." Now in a world premiere international tour, it plays the DCU Center in Worcester Dec. 7-10.
Designed for arenas, the goal is to surprise audiences by showcasing all the possibilities performing on ice provides Cirque's talented performers. Visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/crystal for tickets and information.
CHRISTMAS FAVORITE: Boston Children's Theatre brings the holiday favorite "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to life with performances Nov. 25-Dec. 23 in Beverly, Arlington and Boston. Through Nov. 30, BCT is offering $10 off each full price orchestra seat ticket by using the code Holiday10. Call 617-424-6634 or visit www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org.
COMEDY CLASSIC: What do you call two divorced guys -- one a compulsive neat freak and the other a compulsive slob -- who live together? Playwright Neil Simon called them "The Odd Couple" and turned the lives of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison into one of his most famous plays. Northern Essex Community College's Top Notch Players present the classic comedy Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at the Chester Hawrylciw Theater in the Spurk Building, 100 Elliott St., Haverhill. Brianne Beatrice directs. Tickets are $12, general; $10, students/seniors at the door.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.