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'ELFuego': Elves gone wild

Labor union disputes, free speech violations, rogue little helpers: The North Pole gets real in ‘ELFuego.’

As her name might suggest, Scab is not your typical yes-man elf. Behind her rosy cheeks and candy cane-striped socks, the plucky star of "ELFuego" -- BCKSEET Production's new holiday musical -- walks that thin, familiar line between motivated go-getter and Christmas-crazed sociopath.

"She comes across as really sweet at first, which makes her extra scary," admits BCKSEET artistic director and writer Kate Brennan of Scab, played by actress Sarah Doherty. "It doesn't really prepare you for the Tasers and the roofies."

Then again, nothing about "ELFuego" really follows the holiday musical rubric. The story begins with a massive fire in the North Pole, where unsafe conditions prevented many of the elves from escaping their workshops. While her colleagues take to the picket line, Scab comes up with another idea: Recruiting -- or, if necessary, drugging and kidnapping -- unemployed humans to help churn out the all-important toys.

Although Santa is never identified as the tyrant behind the assembly lines, there is a dark force haunting this North Pole, where free speech is unheard of (to their dismay, the elves are only able to speak in PG-rated rhymes) and Easy-Bake Ovens are valued more than lives.

"It's a comedy, of course, and it's dark, but it's also a reclaiming of the season," says Brennan. "There's the pressure of spending money during the holidays, of being in a romantic relationship, of gaining weight -- there's all this stress about what's supposed to be a celebration."

Give a little bit

For each production, BCKSEET teams up with a community organization to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes. This time, they’ll donate $1 of every full-priced admission ticket to their partner for “ELFuego,” the Philadelphia Unemployment Project. During the show’s opening week, audience members are invited to bring a new toy for the organization’s toy drive.

If you go


Tonight through Dec. 29

Skybox at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St.


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