Review: DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL at DPAC

Come join in some kooky holiday family fun!

By: Dec. 08, 2023
Review: DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL at DPAC

It doesn’t get much more classic Christmas story than Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, whether you’re reading the book or watching one of the several film adaptations. So, seeing the story brought to life onstage is the perfect night out this holiday season for the whole family. The touring production has colorful costumes and scenery, committed performances, and engaging song and dance sequences. 

I surely don’t need to tell you the plot of the Grinch’s tale, but just in case anyone needs a review: a curmudgeonly green figure called the Grinch hates Christmas and decides to steal it from the Whos “down in Whoville,” who have been frantically prepping for the holiday. However, his heart is changed (literally) when he meets young Cindy Lou Who and finds out that Christmas isn’t actually about fancy presents, decorations, or feasts. 

Review: DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL at DPAC Unlike some previous film versions, the tight 90-minute musical doesn’t attempt to embellish the story much beyond its original form. Its only real addition to the original story is to situate an older version of the Grinch’s dog, Max, as the narrator. (It’s a bit unclear why Max is leaving Whoville or if he’s still in contact with the Grinch, but the kids in the audience surely didn’t question it.) 

The main attraction isn’t really the story anyway, it’s the production and costume design by John Lee Beatty and Robert Morgan that are the star of the show. From the Grinch’s impressive face paint and hairy green suit (complete with long stringy Grinch fingers) to the wild and outlandish Who outfits to the set pieces that mimic the illustration style of Dr. Seuss’s original book, it’s hard to figure out where to look with so much impressive work on display. 

The songs from the 1966 animated film appear in the musical, as do several new songs written by Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason. Aside from the Grinch’s show-stopping number “One of a Kind,” the new songs are largely forgettable despite how repetitive they are. (A shocking eight out of eighteen songs in the show are reprises.) However, the choreography by John DeLuca and Bob Richard certainly liven them up. 

Review: DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL at DPAC The dialogue fares a bit better, perhaps because much of it is pulled seemingly directly from Dr. Seuss’s book, and much of the rest is written in his rhyming style to match. While it can’t avoid how outdated some of the story feels – particularly the Grinch’s poor treatment of Max – it does well at capturing the story’s original message of how Christmas has been overcommercialized without falling into being preachy. 

The touring cast does an excellent job of bringing these iconic characters to life, particularly Anthony Cataldo’s titular Grinch, who is a fascinating combination of sinister and hilarious that will no doubt frighten a few young children. Young Trinity Vittoria DeVito, who shares her role with Vivian Atencio, is a scene-stealer as Cindy Lou, Who and dances, sings, and charms shockingly well for her age. Alberto Luis Blanco O.V. also stands out as Young Max; his commitment to the physicality of his role is laudable. 

It’s definitely a show designed for children, their families, and nostalgic adults. Some audience members might find the Grinch’s comments about “the noise, the noise” somewhat understandable, given the high-pitched Who singing and cacophony of Whoville toy shop scenes. But it’s the sort of big, flashy entertainment that’s particularly welcome during the holidays when we’re all a bit more willing to get in touch with our inner child or are eager to spend time with the children in our lives

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel


 


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