Theatre Review: “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical”

“The Grinch may not have stolen Christmas from the Whos but he stole the hearts of the audience, as we watched his heart light up to triple its original size.”


 

“Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” is narrated by Max the Dog as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the Holiday loving Whos.

As I had never attended a live Musical in a big venue, I was not sure what to expect from the iconic Grinch performed on stage. What a surprise! My limited imagination blew to smithereens by the creativity implemented to bring this cartoon to the stage. Written by Albert Hague and Dr. Seuss, the Grinch’s semi-faithful companion Max, the dog, narrates the famous tale of the man/creature/thing with a heart two sizes too small. From the glittery digital backdrop to the brilliant colors, and cartoonish costumes, not a detail was forgotten.

The enigmatic Grinch (played by Philip Bryan) stars with a plethora of red and pink-clad Whos from Whoville. Mr. Grinch performs many antics to endear himself to the audience. He peeks around corners, climbs the stage (not even joking), wails at the audience, and even tells a few people in the front row he hates them as much as he hates Christmas. My six-year-old was never quieter for any other form of entertainment than she was for the funny furry man. Mr. Grinch’s costume is a work of magic. Slime green fur, which even sprouts from his fingertips. The Whoville residents costumes stun from the balloon waists to the pointy hair, and exaggerated body sizes, the townsfolk dance their way into our hearts. The younger version of Max, the one not narrating, has big floppy ears to match his canine bark. Narrator Max tells his tale with ears and an old man sweater complete with patches on his elbows. The stage sets come straight out of the head of Dr. Seuss. Simplistic with a touch of fancy. The whimsical decor matches the book highlighting cartoonish trees, rounded mountains, and unusual Who buildings that delight with simple black and white lines lit for each scene to the correct color. Everything was exactly what it should have been.

The story has not changed over the years, nor is the script overly altered for the stage. The Grinch lives up on a snow-covered mountain overlooking the picturesque Whoville where all the happy Whos live. With a heart two sizes too small, Mr. Grinch rages at the happiness pervading the tiny town. He decides to end the happy charade engulfing the town with the coming holiday. With the help of his dog Max, the Santa-garbed Grinch sneaks into the town during the dark of Christmas Eve night to steal every piece of Christmas. Gone are the lights, wreaths, presents, trees, ornaments, roast beast, and pudding until the Grinch runs into a little hitch in his plans. A hitch the size of a small Who named Cindy Lou. Why is Santa stealing Christmas? With a lie and a song, the Grinch promises the tiny tot all will be fine. In the morning, though, the Whos wake up to snow, the only reminder of the season. The loss does not bring them down, instead; they band together to celebrate the love they have for each other. Their love softens the green villain’s heart as he leaves his wicked ways to join them in their holiday cheer.

The Grinch may not have stolen Christmas from the Whos but he stole the hearts of the audience, as we watched his heart light up to triple its original size. A couple of honorable mentions go out to Josh Houghton who played the cantankerous Grandpa Who and Delilah Rose Pellow who was the tiny Cindy Lou. While her voice was slightly nasal (perhaps she too is allergic to the pollen here in Dallas) her voice rang loud and clear. I was surprised how well I could understand the singing of a child so young, but her enchanting voice carried far past the stage. Mia Rose Lynne played the infectious Mama Who with a bright smile and a happy attitude, which carried to the other Whos as if she was the ringleader. Bob Lauder bit into his role as Old Max, a canine Santa if you will, telling his tale with wisdom and good cheer.

While the production was a hit, a couple of issues with the writing kept me from giving five full stars. The point of the cartoon is to encourage children to be nice to others and work as a community while maintaining individuality. Yet, one song had the Grinch admitting he wanted to be a face in a crowd forgoing his uniqueness altogether. With a fully grown heart, there was no reason to renounce individual personalities. Not quite the message I hoped for my child to walk away with from the otherwise spectacular play. Also, a few of the songs and lines were rather repetitious, probably on purpose for the younger fans but a bit annoying for adults. The show did not disappoint though, with the lively rendition of “You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch,” and the other peppy songs. Nor will your children become overwhelmed or difficult with the show lasting only one and a half hours, perfect Who timing. What a wonderful way to ring in the Christmas season!

Performing at the Winspear Opera House December 5 – 17

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