It is Thanksgiving Eve, and young, jobless toymaker, Kris Kringle, stands outside his apartment building in New York City, sketch pad and pencil in hand, remembering how, as a child, he drew sketches of toys he saw in the stars while his Grandma Angelica kept count. (1. Prologue).
Now alone, Kris finishes the sketch of a special toy he has seen in the stars. When Kris shows his new Toy Sketch to his old boss so Kris can get his job back, Kris’s boss says “no” because Kris’s toys all go “Kablooie.” Then, Kris’s landlady throws him out because he can’t pay his rent. A Little Girl from Kris’s neighborhood suggests that Kris ask Santa Claus, who will be at the Christmas Parade the next day, for a job as a toymaker in New York City. Kris promises Grandma Angelica that he’ll get that job and make the toy in his Toy Sketch so that his grandma will be proud. (1. Kris Kringle).
On Thanksgiving morning, Santa and Mrs. Claus gape at the misbehaving Parade Children, whose conduct confirms why the Nice List is at a record low. Mrs. Claus cajoles Santa to sing a Christmas Parade Song that will help the Naughty children turn Nice. (2. Unwrap the Christmas Magic).
The Christmas Parade Song is a great success, so much so that Kris can’t get Santa’s attention with all of the children singing. Kris invites the attention, however, of Ms. Horn, a lawyer who bemoans how — despite her Thanksgiving Day being ruined because her boss, toy company mogul Roy G. Reedy, asked her to spy on “Claus” — she won’t even receive a Christmas bonus for doing so. Ms. Horn perks up though when she meets Kris, whose box of belongings contains a green and gold staff that catches Ms. Horn’s eye. Kris confirms that he is an unemployed toymaker and that the staff belonged to his grandfather, John Kringle. Elated, Ms. Horn invites Kris to meet with Reedy the next day for a job interview and instructs him to bring along his grandfather’s staff.
The next morning, Reedy is not so elated as children everywhere are singing the Christmas Parade Song and turning Nice. He is upset because the children will now receive gifts from Santa for free, and their parents won’t buy toys from him instead. Reedy speaks on the phone with Judge Daniel W. Drexel’s law clerk, demanding that the judge stop Santa’s Christmas Parade Song, but the clerk says that the judge has ordered Reedy instead to have himself a Merry Little Christmas. (3. What Is So Merry ‘bout Christmas?).
Ms. Horn arrives late, having overslept dreaming of her Christmas bonus. Ms. Horn reveals that she has found a way to get that Christmas bonus: the Kringle Curse. It seems that John Kringle is Santa’s brother who, eons before, had tried to turn the Elves’ Workshop into a toy company. Santa had banished John and created a curse so that, if John or any of his descendants snuck into the Elves’ Workshop, the Elves would freeze to give Santa time to find the Kringle and boot him out of the North Pole. Ms. Horn plans to send an unwitting Kris to the North Pole to work as an Apprentice. Once Kris is promoted to Elf, the other Elves will freeze, toy production will come to a halt, and Christmas will be ruined.
When Kris arrives, Reedy and Ms. Horn lie that Santa has asked Reedy for a recommendation for an Apprentice. They convince Kris to change his name to Daniel W. Drexel so that Santa won’t favor a fellow “Kringle.” Kris heads to the North Pole, with Reedy promising Ms. Horn a big, fat Christmas bonus if Kris is promoted to Elf. (4. What Is So Merry ‘bout Christmas (Reprise)).
The North Pole is a wonderous place with more twinkling stars than can be counted. The head of the Apprentices’ Boot Camp, Evelyn Noel, looks up at the stars and remembers her mother saying that a sky filled with so many stars meant a wonderful thing was in store for Evelyn. Evelyn asks what that thing could be only to be answered by Elmer, the egotistical Head of the Elves’ Workshop and Elvis wannabe who dreams of becoming the next Santa. Evelyn rebuffs Elmer and his clumsy advances. A joyful Kris – who adopts the name, Daniel W. Drexel — accidentally dances into Evelyn, who demands that Kris take a seat with the other Apprentices. (5. Beautiful).
Evelyn instructs the Apprentices to study Santa’s Rulebook, which the Apprentices do — as the Elf Children watch through the windows — except for Kris who, instead, doodles on its pages. (6. Santa’s Rulebook).
After Evelyn interrogates Kris about a doodle of her that he has drawn, she declares a surprise quiz on Santa’s Rules, which Kris fails. Worse still, Santa becomes upset when Kris announces he will make a special toy without realizing that Elves making their own toys violates Santa’s Rules. Evelyn demands that Kris go to her office later, and Elmer tells Kris to zip his lips and memorize Santa’s Rulebook, pronto. Santa complains to Mrs. Claus that Elmer has been pestering him to retire and proclaims that Kris will be expelled if he doesn’t follow Santa’s Rules. Mrs. Claus asks about having a Toy Competition, but Santa states it will have to wait yet another year.
Kris tries to study Santa’s Rulebook as he sits under the stars, but is distracted by a wonderful toy he sees in the night sky. While he draws the toy, Mrs. Claus watches, unseen, in awe. Kris asks her not to tell Santa he messed up again; in response, she encourages Kris to believe in the magic he has in him. (7. Something Wonderful in You).
After Kris leaves, Mrs. Claus tries to rope Evelyn into supporting a Toy Competition. Evelyn refuses, but Mrs. Claus declares a Toy Competition will take place that very season.
Evelyn is fit to be tied when Elmer is in her quarters doing Elvis moves in her mirror. Elmer takes another shot at convincing Evelyn to date him, but she again rebuffs him as Kris appears. (8. Green Suede Shoes).
Evelyn and Kris bicker about which of Santa’s Rules says that Apprentices and Elves can’t make their own toys, as a result of which Evelyn accidentally breaks a photograph of her mother. As Kris takes broken glass from her hand and asks about Evelyn’s mother, she reveals that her mother died when Evelyn was ten just after giving Evelyn a toy snow leopard cub called Rory in the photograph. Kris shares that his parents did not want him to be a toymaker because his grandfather John had done something bad as a toymaker, but how his Grandma Angelica, who died when Kris was ten, encouraged Kris to live his dream. Evelyn tells Kris gently that he can’t make toys or he’ll be expelled, but Kris is preoccupied, concentrating on the photograph of Evelyn’s mother. (9. My North Star).
Kris makes a toy while the other Apprentices sleep, a snow leopard cub like the one Kris saw in Evelyn’s photograph. Kris is amazed when Rory meows and purrs at him. Rory unintentionally awakens the other Apprentices. Kris mistakes their reaction to Rory as their intention to report him for violating Santa’s Rulebook. But he is dead wrong as they think he is the best toymaker ever. (10. Skip Ba Doo).
As the friends celebrate, Elmer enters, seizes Rory, and orders Kris to Evelyn’s quarters for Kris to be expelled.
Evelyn almost expels Kris as she misunderstands his motives for making Rory. When Kris tells Evelyn that he made Rory because Evelyn misses her mother, Elmer threatens to report Kris to Santa. Evelyn counters that Rory is a gift, sending Elmer on his way. Evelyn reminds Kris that he must obey the rules. The two part, each wondering whether they are falling in love. (11. Beautiful/My North Star (Reprise)).
It is three weeks later and the day that the new Elves will be announced has arrived. Evelyn and Elmer squabble about Kris, when Santa enters and sides with Elmer. Mrs. Claus announces that a Toy Competition will take place the following evening and that, if Kris wins, he will become an Elf. Santa throws a wrench into Mrs. Claus’s plan by proclaiming Elmer will be the judge of the Toy Competition. But it is Mrs. Claus who has the last word. She presents Santa with Holly, a worn, ear-torn polar bear that Santa gave her when they were first married, a toy Santa saw in the stars, and asks for that young Santa back.
Later that day, Mrs. Claus reads the new-Elf list, which excludes Kris. Evelyn explains to Kris that he needs to win the Toy Competition, but Elmer taunts Kris that Elmer will be the judge. Undeterred, Kris asks if he can have a few minutes alone to think about the toy he will make, but becomes distracted when he spots Holly. He fixes Holly so she looks like new, but is then confronted by Elmer, who assures Kris that Kris will never win and that Elmer intends to personally boot Kris’s butt “back home to grandma.” Kris nearly raises the white flag when the Toys remind him of the Toy Sketch he made for his grandma. With rediscovered determination, Kris takes out his pencil and sets to work on his Toy Sketch once again. Kris does not know, however, that Reedy and Ms. Horn have taken control of Elmer to ensure Kris will win and be promoted to Elf so the Kringle Curse can be set into motion. (12. Extraordinary).
It is Toy Competition Day. Kris arrives early and shows his Toy Sketch to the Toys, who congratulate him on the amazing spirit of Christmas that they see in him. (13. Tonight We Will Roar).
Shortly thereafter, Elmer/Reedy informs Santa that it was Kris who fixed Holly. Santa shares Holly with a delighted Mrs. Claus and intimates that Santa will encourage Elmer to vote for Kris in the Toy Competition. But Elmer/Reedy needs no encouragement — Reedy wants Kris to become an Elf to trigger the Kringle Curse — and Kris’s toy is spectacular, a flying angel polar bear named Jolly!
When Santa proclaims that Kris is the winner and newest Elf, Kris looks up at the night sky and thanks his grandmother. But Kris’s joy doesn’t last long. Elmer spots Elves are starting to freeze because of the Kringle Curse, but no one else is listening as they are celebrating, no one else, that is, except Kris. By the next morning, however, the senior Elves in the Elves’ Workshop are agitated about rumors Elmer is spreading about the Kringle Curse. (14. The Kringle Curse).
Try as they might, the senior Elves can’t hide what is happening from Kris. When the Elves freeze one by one before Kris’s eyes, Kris pieces together Reedy and Ms. Horn’s scheme. He asks why his Grandma Angelica didn’t tell him about the Kringle Curse. In his mind, she answers that she was afraid the spirit of Christmas so alive in him would die if he knew about it. Having seen the true spirit of Christmas in her grandson will never die, Grandma Angelica inspires Kris to believe that he can set things right in the North Pole and save their family as well. (15. Pathway Through).
Kris confesses to Santa that his real name is not Daniel W. Drexel, but, instead, Kris Kringle. Santa and Mrs. Claus reveal that Reedy is Kris’s grandfather, John Kringle. Kris promises to make amends, but a heartbroken Evelyn rejects Kris, and a torn Santa banishes him from the North Pole. When Elmer is smug about his victory over Kris, the newly-thawed Elves go on strike. Santa turns to Mrs. Claus for help. When she reminds Santa of the magic in him (Something Wonderful in You (Reprise)), Santa pledges to find Kris.
Kris is in an unlikely place: Roy G. Reedy’s office. Ms. Horn has second thoughts about what she did to Kris to get her Christmas bonus, and prods Reedy to remember that he is Kris’s grandfather. Reedy explains that Grandma Angelica abandoned Reedy after Santa banished him, and that Reedy cannot and will not forget what Santa did. When Santa arrives, Kris tries to reunite them, but they resist, until Kris reminds them about the power of forgiveness. (16. Forgiveness).
Santa and Reedy are rejoined as brothers, and Santa ends the Kringle Curse so that Reedy and Kris can return to the North Pole.
In the North Pole, after reconciling with Evelyn, Kris rounds up the troops to meet the Christmas Eve deadline. The spirit of Christmas returns to the Elves’ Workshop as everyone gets to work. Christmas is saved, and Santa appoints Kris to write a new Rulebook for the North Pole. Grandma Kringle watches down on her reunited family, and everyone celebrates as a familiar sleigh takes off into the night sky. (17. Finale).