Columbus native in lead role in ‘Elf’ in Bloomington

Columbus native Luke Major moved to New York City this year to get more serious about refining his acting career goals. But forget thinking he even has to strain his talent much for his latest role as the lead character in Constellation Stage & Screen’s production of “Elf: The Musical,” presented through Dec. 31 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in downtown Bloomington.

The Columbus East High School graduate plays the lead role of Buddy, the over-the-top, overjoyed fellow who seemingly was made for a place called Christmastown after he crawls into Santa’s sack as a baby and then travels to New York as an adult to find his father.

“It ‘s my dream role,” said Major, speaking by phone from his Manhattan apartment. “I’ve wanted to play this character since I was a freshman in college. Christmas is absolutely my favorite time of the year. I’m just obsessed with Christmas.”

And Buddy. In fact, when he got to Indiana University, where he studied musical theater, he used Buddy’s tune “World’s Greatest Dad” for his voice lessons.

“He has such an innocent love for Christmas, and doesn’t allow everything that’s going on around him to get him down,” Major said. “He’s very optimistic. And he always leads with kindness and a good heart in his world.

“And he’s very high energy and very expressive.”

The whole concept of Buddy reminds Major of the classic Christmas specials he grew up with, such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

So Major can feel slightly like a kid again as Buddy.

“He’s so honest,” Major said. “He doesn’t have much of a filter. And he’s very childlike, but in the best way possible.”

Columbus native and former opera performer Julianna Jerome Drerup, Major’s voice teacher for years, is planning to see her former student at Friday’s performance.

“He was definitely born to play this part,” she said. “… And I am sure this will not be his last ‘Elf.’ He’s young. I feel he will have other opportunities in the future to play Buddy.”

She mentioned that he has the vocals, the acting talent, the energy, enthusiasm and heart to capture Buddy.

“He’s also very motivated with an incredible work ethic,” Jerome-Drerup said.

Major loves the character so much that someone asked him if he feels slightly tempted to don his Buddy elf costume and excitedly wander the streets of New York City in real life.

“It wouldn’t take much (prodding),” he said with a laugh. “There would be people who would get into it, I’m sure.”

Major hopes that those attending the musical will do precisely that.

“Our choreographer mentioned in rehearsals that this might be the first show that some people are going out to see in person since the pandemic,” he said. “And I think of this time of year as special and festive, whether a person actually celebrates the Christmas meaning or not. I hope that people get their entire family together and come and make a memory that they can talk about for years to come.”

Regarding Major’s own years to come, he’s aiming for Broadway roles eventually, and has shared such dreams with fellow Columbus native and New York City resident Mary Claire King, who recently met him for coffee and encouragement.

“I see this show,” he said, “as a stepping stone.”

One leading straight toward his future.

About the show

What: Constellation Stage & Screen’s production of “Elf: The Musical.”

When: At various times today through Dec. 31.

Where: Buskirk-Chimley Theater at 114 E. Kirkwood Ave. in downtown Bloomington.

Tickets: Prices start at $35 for adults, $23 for students, and $20 for children. Tickets available through Constellation’s website (seeconstellation.org) and box office (812-336-9300, open noon to 5 p.m. weekdays). Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Bloom Box Office, located at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater (open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. weekends).

Information: seeconstellation.org.