HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, THE MUSICAL
I can’t believe that I’m going to say this, but…I loved this show!!! I really didn’t expect to, but maybe there’s background as to why: I get confused when Mr. X and my previous boyfriend disagree so vehemently on something, as they agree on the main things in life: they both love the Yankees, pizza, and most importantly, ME! But the old one absolutely LOVES The Grinch as much as Mr. X can’t stand it. So, I think I’m pro, but really can’t figure it out.
I went to the Pantages, hoping for the best. And that’s exactly what I got! It was an absolutely delightful experience, though I still can never understand how parents can afford all these family-oriented entertainments.
It’s the same basic story as Dr. Seuss’ iconic book, and the old cartoon of it with Boris Karloff narrating. But they’ve added dialogue and mostly unmemorable musical numbers.
The components that make this a not-to-be-missed holiday show are the amazing costumes and sets, a few clever tricks, and the marvelous performance of Stephan Karl as The Grinch himself. I was soooo disappointed when I read that Christopher Lloyd had dropped-out, but I can’t imagine him doing the part better than Mr. Karl.
Adding to the fun was the reactions of children in the crowd. Every time one near me laughed, the whole audience followed suit, mainly enjoying the kid’s mirth even more than what triggered it. And the best part is the show’s so short, it never has a chance to get tedious. It’s listed at 90 minutes, but I think it’s really only about 75.
I must talk about the wonderful costumes and sets, designed by Robert Morgan and John Lee Beatty respectively, working in perfect harmony. Brilliantly, the holiday effect was achieved through the use of only red, white, pink, and black. How genius is that??? So, the Grinch, all in green, with amazing make-up that made his extreme expressions easily seen even all the way in the back, really stood-out.
And I’m such a goon, I couldn’t stop patting myself on the back for having worn the exact costume colors to the theatre, without a clue that I’d match the actors. I really wanted to go onstage and get some award for “Best Audience Member Matching Attire.” (And my coat was all fuzzy, [on purpose, not because it’s old and pilled!], so my friend, Celia, dubbed it “The Grinch.” Okay, I told you I was goony!)
The cast performed their parts admirably, with no one annoying me, which is a rarity. The little girl who played Cindy Lou Who, Issadora Tulalian at my performance (there are two casts for certain parts), was adorable! She looked like a little doll, and sang really well. And didn’t seem like she was performing in a school play, which was an enormous pleasure.
The only thing that kept distracting me is trying to figure out what John Larroquette was doing in the show. He must have made some bad investments in life and needs the money because his role, the grown-up version of Max, the Grinch’s dog sidekick, is thankless. I actually got up at 3AM to check the program to see if he owned part of the show! It’s just sort-of incongruent to have a known multiple-Emmy-winning actor having a basically nothing part in a kids’ Christmas show. I’m still scratching my head over that one.
And his performance was pretty lackluster, to boot. It was the absolute opposite of energetic! He seemed to be just walking through it. That kind-of low-key delivery was perfect for his TV appearances, but just does not cut it for stage, especially a kid-oriented musical, which requires extra energy, in my opinion. Even Taylor Hicks gave much more to his small role as the Teen Angel in Grease earlier this season. Trying to figure the whole thing out kept taking me out of the enjoyment of the show.
But only a bit. The overall happiness of the audience and actors, paired with all the magical effects, pulled me back in every time, and my post-show smile is still with me. Even the Grinch couldn’t steal that!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Musical running through January 3, 2010
Pantages Theatre 6233 Hollywood Blvd. 800-982-2787 www.BroadwayLA.org