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Holiday presentation opens tonight

Matthew Larsen appeared in his element in Cornerstone Community Theater's production of 'Elf, The Musical.'

He plays Buddy, who as a toddler is accidentally transported to the North Pole and raised as one of Santa's elves.

'Elf, The Musical,' which premieres at 7 o'clock tonight at the Cornerstone Community Church, 17900 Comconex Rd. in Manteca, closely resembles the 2003 Will Ferrell movie 'Elf' — it's actually based on the book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin — but only with music by Matthew Skyler and lyrics by Chad Beguelin.

With a cast of 48, ranging in age from 10 and older, 'Elf, The Musical' will also have performances on Friday (7 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m., 7 p.m.) and Sunday (4 p.m.).

Admission is $15 for preferred seating and $10 for general seating.

Larsen, 28, has enjoyed working with the young performers during these past two months.

He can relate with Buddy, the Elf.

"I love working with kids and I enjoy making people laugh," said Larsen, who's been the Children's Pastor at Cornerstone for over the past three years.

This is his first go-around as an actor in this community theater production under the direction of Emilie Reese, with Michealle Hoag as the producer, Madison Clark as the technical director, Kristin Scott as music director, and Atlantah Flora as the choreographer / costume coordinator.

Roderick Cook plays Buddy's father, Walter Hobbs.

"My oldest son is 26 — he's about the same age (as Matthew Larsen)," said Cook, who has performed in other plays here and in Oakdale.

On Larsen, he added: "I like his child-like innocence."

Howard Miller, who plays Santa Claus, has also performed in other community plays. But this is first time doing a musical.

"I'm actually looking forward to it," said Miller, who opens with 'Happy All The Time,' singing alongside with Larsen and the North Pole elves in Act 1.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 209.825.1220.