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"What the Elf?", an Original Play Written and Directed by Fabian Gallego and Christopher Perez, Premieres on YouTube and Vimeo

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Arcangelo Iurato '21

15 December 2020

The 2020 Winter Play has had its challenges throughout production. They have had to film outdoors, wear masks, and take other precautions. Thankfully, the cast and crew were able to overcome these obstacles to produce the 2020 Holiday Play entitled What the Elf?, written by Fabian Gallego '21 and Christopher Perez '22.


What the Elf Final Version from Passaic Valley High School on Vimeo.

What the Elf? will premiere through Passaic Valley's YouTube and Vimeo channels at 8pm on Tuesday, December 22nd. It is the first time the Holiday Play will be streamed exclusively. It is also Gallego and Perez’s first time writing the Holiday Play.

What the Elf? stars:Fabian Gallego as Santa (right) and Gabby Cielo as Mrs. Claus (Left); photo credit: Christopher Perez

Julian Ezquivel as Winny/The Caribbean Elf

Mykhayla Lopez as Sugarplum Mary

Julia Ciampa as Alabaster Snowball

Juliana Manzi as The Elder/Blitzen

Emma Giron as Berry Evergreen

Gianna Cavuoto as Pepper Minstix/Donner

Chyna Sinclair as Heat Miser

Jaylene Nogueira as Snow Miser

Jeneily Ruano as The Snow Queen

Mallory Cestone as Rudolph

Lauren Russo as Dasher

Noah Fuchs as Dancer

Emily Rogin as Prancer

Hailey Shafer as Vixen

Connor Meletta as Comet

Kristen Schubert as Cupid

Fabian Gallego as Krampus/Santa Claus

Gabby Cielo as Mrs. Claus

Cast and crew of "What the Elf?" preparing to film; photo credit: Christopher Perez "What happens [in the play] is that the reindeer end up quitting, because Santa got this new automated sleigh," said Gallego. "He doesn't need their help anymore, so they team up with Krampus, who is the anti-Santa. He takes advantage of them and uses their numbers to take over the North Pole."

Though they worked together on the script, the co-writers see the meaning behind What The Elf? differently:

"The moral of What the Elf? is that good always triumphs over evil," said Perez.

"The moral of the story is to have fun," Gallego added. "Be who you are and don't let anybody get in your way."

Gallego and Perez used their respective strengths collectively during the writing process. "I don't think I would have been able to get this show together without him [Perez]." said Gallego. "He is like the brains and technical side of the operation whereas I am the more creative, sort of free thinking, side of it. Working with him has helped me keep things in track."

Their dynamic is sure to produce a fun Winter Play for the Passaic Valley community. "Working with my co-director, Gallego, is going really well," said Christopher. "We came in with a lot of theater knowledge and fun ideas to bounce off each other to make this show very fun and entertaining."

As always, the Holiday Play is primarily produced by students. However, teacher advisors help students along the way. The student crew includes Co-Writers and Co-Directors Fabian Gallego and Christopher Perez (who also served as Editor), Costume Director/Choreographer Camryn Frey, Music Director Gabby Cielo, Set Designer/Location Scouts Aidan Timms and Nick Iacovo, Filming Director Sarah Mitchell, and Stage Crew Michael Preziosi and Isabella Semeraro.

The teacher advisors include Winter Play Advisor Ms. Jennifer Shue, Assistant Director/Props/Set Location Advisor Mr. Robert Lavagno, Costume Advisor Ms. Maggie Lavagno, and Music Advisor Mr. Michael Deluccia.

Director Christopher Perez talks with cast and crew of "What the Elf?"; property of Christopher Perez This year, the elementary students cannot travel to the school to watch the play as usual. Luckily, it will be live streamed via Vimeo and YouTube, so the students can still experience the show from their homes.The crew has had to adjust to the new way of production amidst a pandemic, such as where they film and what they have to do to be able to carry out responsibilities. They filmed outside and adhered to social distancing guidelines. Each member of the cast and crew filled out COVID questionnaires daily, had physicals, and periodically checked their temperatures. Ms. Shue also provided clear masks in scenes with multiple actors/actresses.

The cast and crew felt it was important to produce a Winter Play, even if some changes to tradition needed to be made. "Kids need to feel engaged and need to continue to do activities that make them happy. We need to get them involved, which can help with socialization skills," said Ms. Shue. "As a counselor, I think about the mental health aspect of what is happening in the pandemic. Any time you can get kids to socialize somehow is going to help their mental health. That's what has been most important."

The Co-Writers and Co-Directors hope the benefits of the show extend to their audience as well.

"I just want the viewers to have fun," said Gallego. "I think that's what we are really focusing on in writing to make the story fun and entertaining for not only kids, but older people who watch it because it is a funny show."

"My hope is that the audience can gain some holiday cheer and appreciation for all the hard work that went into writing, directing, and producing What The Elf?" said Perez. "I want to ensure that this is an unforgettable experience for the actors and audience."