BWW Interview: Matt August of DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL at Overture Center
Dr. Seuss' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL kicks off the holiday season in Madison during Thanksgiving week. Director Matt August shared his thoughts on this time-honored story that has been transformed into a hit holiday stage production.
What can audiences expect when they come to the show?
The production looks and feels like the book and animated cartoon, not the Jim Carey movie. We use the tone and feel of Dr. Seuss. In fact, the first thing the audience sees is the end pages of the book on the stage with the beautiful mural of Cindy Lou Who holding the wreath.
How does the show differ from the book?
The show is framed from the point of view of Max the dog in his later years remembering the heyday of his youth, when this seminal event happened, when the Grinch transformed. There an element of nostalgia and mortality that has a very deep emotion and that strikes a nerve with the grandparent audience. And within that, there's all sorts of mystery and show business, but it's always very anchored in Ted Geisel.
The real surprise and twist in the show comes from the relationship that forms between the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who. We have a very funny guy, Philip Bryan, playing Grinch and that's really what the show becomes about--his personality. The way the personality between the Grinch on the page and the actor playing it can hold the audience in the palm of their hand.
Cindy Lou Who and the kids we have playing these parts are top of the game. Previous years' cast members have gone on to astonishing careers-some to television and many to Broadway in Matilda, Gypsy and Anastasia. They are kid actors to keep an eye on for the rest of their careers.
Who will the show appeal to?
We've found that it appeals to all generations. Kids are sometimes experiencing it for the first time, so they are seeing the magic of theatre. The parents are remembering when they read the story and read it to their children, and they are enjoying all the new surprises in the show. Then the grandparents are the generation that by and large ignored the film and grew up with book as one of their primary sources of reading. So they are going through a nostalgic experience as well.
What else is special about the show?
We pride ourselves that this production is done with the approval of the Seuss estate and that we've kept it as true to the spirit of Dr. Seuss as possible.
The story of the Grinch is about how a community can better itself and how nobody is alone. Everybody is a part of something that is bigger than themselves. That's the message of the show that we try to leave audiences with. That we are better as a whole than we are as separate parts.
Nobody is an island, as much as the Grinch wants to be alone and as fearful as the community is of the Grinch, once they let go of their preconceptions about each other and they just live in the moment with each other, they find they really like each other and that's a model for a better community, that's a model for a better world.
Audiences will discover the magic of Dr. Seuss' classic holiday tale as it comes to life live on stage. The Grinch discovers there's more to Christmas than he bargained for in this heart-warming holiday classic. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is "two sizes too small," decides to steal Christmas away from the holiday-loving Whos including Danny Who, played by Wisconsinite Jonathan Nadolny, born and raised in Greenfield, Wis.
THE GRINCH broke box office records for two consecutive years on Broadway during its holiday engagements at the St. James and Hilton theaters in New York. More than 1.8 million theater-goers across America have seen this holiday musical, which the Gannett papers hailed as "A genius of a show! A total delight for both kids and adults."
Performances run from Nov 21st - Nov 26th. Tickets start at $35 and are available in person at the Overture Center Ticket Office (201 State Street), online at overture.org or by phone at 608.258.4141.