By Martin Morse Wooster: I saw Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!—The Musical last night at the National Theatre in Washington. From the musical’s website and Wikipedia, I learned that this musical has been around since 1994 and has played in 41 other cities in the U.S. before it showed up in Washington. The production I saw played in Cleveland last week.
The book is by Timothy Mason and the music by Mel Marvin. I never heard of either of them but they’re both pretty experienced and Marvin did the score for a version of Elmer Gantry a few years ago. But both Mason and Marvin realize the two songs from the ‘60s TV special in this production, with music by Albert Hague and lyrics by Dr. Seuss, are better than anything they came up with, so we heard “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” twice, the second time in a sing-along version.
You know the plot. The citizens of Whoville are looking forward to Christmas when they can get lots of stuff and eat many sugary treats. Then that mean Grinch shows up and steals all their stuff. But why? Deprived childhood? Acid reflux? The answer here is that the Grinch is tired of all the noise the Whovians make. At that point I started cheering the Grinch on.
I especially cheered on the Grinch when Cindy-Lou Who showed up to play the perky pre-teen who should have been in Annie, but ended up here. “Oh no,” says the Grinch.
“Here comes a ballad!” Cindy-Lou Who then gets to sing two more songs, and we could feel her perkiness in the balcony.
The costumes and set design were excellent, and Philip Bryan was suitably malevolent as the Grinch. Bob Lauder was almost as good as Thurl Ravenscroft in singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” but I never understood why he played a dog. Danielle Guilbot played Cindy-Lou Who, and no doubt her agent is looking for touring productions of Annie that need tykes. There were a dozen other Whovians but I can’t remember anything about them except their Pepto Bismol-pink costumes.
Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas!—The Musical was all right and more entertaining than the movie with Jim Carrey. But I don’t need to see it again.