BWW Review: HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS!, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
How The Grinch Stole Christmas! is the musical adaptation of the much loved Dr Seuss book. Living above the town of Whoville, a grumpy creature known as The Grinch resides with his pet dog Max and resents the townspeople experiencing any kind of joy. The Grinch realises how important Christmas is to the town- so he decides to steal everything related to the holiday and ruin their happiness.
Edward Baker-Duly makes an excellent Grinch, oozing meanness as he slinks about the stage. Baker-Duly has great comedic timing and manages to balance the conflicting feelings of The Grinch perfectly.
A slightly bizarre casting choice was having Gregor Fisher as the narrator. He opened the show by reading the first half of the original text which was a nice touch but he wasn't seen again during the show, didn't appear for the curtain call and isn't listed in the programme. The older version of Max the dog (Steve Fortune) narrates the story for the remainder of the performance which makes it all the more bizarre to have Fisher advertised as their star casting.
Where this show kind of loses its way is that it doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a big Broadway musical or a British pantomime. When Old Max is searching for three words to describe the Grinch, the Grinch interjects "Scottish Independence Referendum?" which doesn't make any sense. There's a little interaction with the crowd but if feels quite strained and the children don't really have the chance to get involved in the same way as they would with a panto.
While the best known song "You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch" goes down well, the rest of the tracks feel like filler to justify staging this as a full musical. How The Grinch Stole Christmas! is visually impressive and a delight to look at. Some of the staging is designed to be true to the original illustrations in the book and the colourful costumes are stunning.
There's something slightly lacking in this production in Act One but the finale is absolutely bursting with festive cheer and the children in the audience are completely captivated by it. While this show was a bit of a mishmash of styles it is a great story with decent performances and makes for a good spectacle.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas! runs at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh until 1 December.