‘Tis the season for family-friendly theatre, and The Pantages is serving it up, staging the story of a famously ill-adjusted green grouch known for absconding with the Christmas spirit. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is a stage rendering of the Dr. Seuss classic about the happy residents of Whoville and the nasty curmudgeon who attempts to rob them of yuletide cheer. Children will love this production, adults not so much.
Simply put, the lack of fanciful choreography by John DeLuca and Bob Richard, and the sub-par sets of John Lee Beatty can’t possibly inspire even the youngest-at-heart amidst the above-twelve crowd, but will leave the kiddos smiling ear-to-ear. Timothy Mason’s book and lyrics don’t do much to make adults feel the spirit of the season either, but the appropriately broad acting style of Stefan Karl as The Grinch is enough to garner giggles from the smaller set.
Seuss’ original story should be licensed to kill, considering its life lessons about having an open heart and engaging in the risky act of being vulnerable. In the original story, the little Whos are entirely endearing characters, eccentric innocents who know nothing of spite or ill will. Here, they’re so grating that you’re rooting for The Grinch to snatch their presents and wipe their silly smiles away for good.
The fact that many of the Seussian story elements stay the same saves the show from total flatness. John Larroquette as The Grinch’s put-upon sidekick, Old Dog, does the show a service with his wry narration and general desire to be anywhere but by the side of his green master. And it’s still fun to hear the old songs from the cartoon, “You’re a Mean One Mister Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas.” It’s also true that when Cindy-Lou Who (a role split between Kayley Stallings and Issadora Tulalian) finally melts The Grinch’s icy heart, we can’t help but smile.
Take your kids to see this musical, and you’re guaranteed a good time, especially when fake snow falls inside the theatre. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking the magic of this particular tale will warm the cockles of your adult friends. And, I promise you, I’m no Grinch.
Through December 27 at The Pantages Theatre. Call 800.982.2787.
Contact Amy Lyons • firstname.lastname@example.org