Though the Grinch tries to be creepy and scary, the Whos in Whoville make the holidays merry. When the Grinch attempts to steal Christmas from the Whos, their spirits stay bright and their hearts stay true.
The Dr. Seuss tale of a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature who hates Christmas, and all those who love it, has stood the test of time. What began as a book in the 1950s, and became a beloved animated TV movie in the 1960s is still enjoyed by children and adults today. Jim Carrey starred in a live-action film in 2000, and the current iteration — in its 10th year — is the stage production of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.”
The tale is told by Old Max (played by Bob Lauder), the Grinch’s loyal dog. Old Max takes the viewer back to when he was a young pup (Young Max is played by Andreas Wyder) and the Grinch (played by Philip Bryan) comes up with his “wonderful, awful idea” of stealing Christmas from the Whos. The original rhyming phrases in the book are intertwined with lyrics by Timothy Mason and music by Mel Marvin.
The Whos, with their bulbous bodies dressed in pink and red, and the furry, long-fingered Grinch in shades of green, are a bright contrast to the flat black and white line drawings Dr. Seuss was known for, which are incorporated into the minimal sets
The show is brought into the 21st century with little touches throughout Whoville, such as a shopping bag from boowhomingdales, a coffee cup from Whobucks, a refrigerator marked General Wholectric, and a scene featuring the Grinch singing “One of a Kind” where he swaggers and struts across the stage and shouts out #grinchlife. This is one of the best songs in the show, and displays the acting and singing skills of Bryan as the over-the-top creature whose heart is two sizes too small.
As the Grinch tries to be formidable and mean, he ironically shows fear of the Who children, especially the bossy and sassy Cindy Lou Who (alternating performances by Julia Rose DiPiazza and Danielle Guilbot). Cindy Lou starts to melt his frozen heart when she serenades him during “Santa for a Day.” The Grinch, dressed as “Santy Claus,” exclaims to the audience, “Oh no, it’s a ballad.” There are several tongue-in-cheek moments when the actors break the fourth wall.
The 90-minute show with no intermission crams in a lot of surprises, including a sing-a-long of “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch,” several scenes including puppets, and a wintery wonderland effect not to be missed.
This laugh out loud and family-friendly show is ultimately about cherishing friends and family at the holidays, and realizing that “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from the store?” as the Grinch finally comes to understand
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” runs at The National Theatre in Washington through Dec. 31.
If you go
Buy tickets at thenationaldc.org.