Erik Gratton has played many characters in his career, but playing Buddy, the lead role in “Elf the Musical,” coming to the Boch Center Wang Theatre Nov. 28-Dec. 10, is a special treat. “Spending a couple of hours in Buddy’s mind-set — someone who is happy all of the time — is a pleasure,” said Gratton, 41, who was born in Kansas City, Mo., raised mostly in Kansas, and now lives in Glendale, Calif., with his girlfriend, fellow actor Krista Curry. The show is based on the hit 2003 movie “Elf,” featuring Will Farrell in the role Gratton is playing onstage. While he has performed in and around Boston before, this will be his longest run in the city. “I’m here for two weeks, so I’m looking forward to exploring Boston and seeing some of my best friends who live here,” he said. We caught up with Gratton to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? My girlfriend, Krista, and I both travel for work and so many of our trips are to see the other where they’re doing a show. This is ongoing. She’s coming to Boston and New York to see “Elf,” [and] I went to Seattle twice this spring to see her, and before that we spent last winter together doing “Fiddler on the Roof” in Arizona. When we have time together to travel, that means we’re not working — and not making money — so we tend to stay close to home or visit family in Kansas City or California or Seattle. We like the California coast: Pismo, Santa Barbara, [and] San Diego for quick getaways alone.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Whatever is good, fresh, and local. I used to tour with rock bands as a chef. With that gig I got a little obsessed with regional foods. Find a local who loves food [and] listen to that local.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I’ve never done anyplace warm outside the contiguous 48. When I’ve gone international, it’s been England, Ireland, Russia, [and] Canada; cloudy and cold atmosphere. They’re beautiful, but I’d like some sun. There are places I’d love to see on every continent. Most dream trips would likely have multiple destinations. I don’t like stopping in one place for too long, even as a place to live. I did the math for my dad the other day and I’ve had 50 mailing addresses since 2000.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Refillable water bottle. Boring maybe, but key.
Aisle or window? Window. The wall gives me a feeling of being ensconced. It’s the coziest option.
Favorite childhood travel memory? We did family trips in the Pinto station wagon to my grandparents’ farm [in Osceola, Mo.] most weekends, summers, and holidays. It’s only a couple of hours away, but I remember those trips and the stops so vividly. I learned to drive on that route, too. Also, my dad was on a Fulbright to England in 1986. We lived in a small village in Lancashire and that experience was definitely formative.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? I always buy a mystery novel at the airport.
Best travel tip? Leave some unscheduled time to explore — then actually use that time to explore. And do some basic research about the history, food, and politics of where you’re visiting before you get there.