Straight outta Whoville, a ‘Grinch’ with at­ti­tude

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Is it wrong to love the Grinch?

No, not the post-epiphany Grinch at the con­clu­sion of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas! The Mu­si­cal,” through Dec. 27 at the Broward Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts.

I’m talk­ing about sim­ply ador­ing the vile Grinch, the orig­i­nal gangsta Grinch, the pre-makeover Grinch. I sim­ply adore that Grinch. He’s so de­li­ciously bad, so com­mit­ted to ru­in­ing the hol­i­days of vil­lagers in Whoville (who I al­ways thought had too much of a 1950s hege­mony vibe for their own good).

And then, there’s that at­ten­tion to de­tail, so de­light­fully Seussi­cal, first chron­i­cled in the 1957 chil­dren’s book and later made into the clas­sic 1966 an­i­mated TV movie. That at- ten­tion is also in the stage mu­si­cal, here ren­dered with ev­ery the­atri­cal vis­ual in the book: pan­tomime; pup­pets; fog ma­chines; kalei­do­scope-col­ored cos­tumes; light­ing tricks; pro­jec­tions; and count­less shim­mery scrims, giv­ing the show a sleek cin­e­matic feel.

There’s even a spec­tac­u­lar spe­cial ef­fect through­out much of the au­di­ence that is a real wow mo­ment late in the 90-minute, in­ter­mis­sion-less mu­si­cal (no spoiler here). Ob­vi­ously aimed at keep­ing wig­gling chil­dren en­tranced, the knock­out mo­ments struc­tured to hit ev­ery five or 10 min­utes are a god­send to par­ents. But so is the Grinch, played with ex­u­ber­ant heart, soul and wit by Ste­fan Karl. He makes the oh-so-fa­mil­iar ma­te­rial bet­ter and more sat­is­fy­ing with his de­li­cious and ra­di­ant take, a mix of Paul Lynde’s bite and Ed O’Neill’s growl.

I don’t just love the

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas! The Mu­si­cal”

When: Through Dec. 27. Showtimes vary. Where: Broward Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Laud­erdale Cost: $25-$85 Con­tact: 954-462-0222 or go to BrowardCen­ Grinch. I love this Grinch. This faux-Who is a hoot, mug­ging and camp­ing it up as if his life de­pended on it. Any suc­cess “Grinch! The Mu­si­cal” has rests on those green, furry shoul­ders.

The other char­ac­ters — save the preter­nat­u­rally pre­co­cious child Cindy-Lou Who (played by Genny Gagnon, who al­ter­nates with Rachel Katzke) — are un­der­writ­ten. But who really cares about the other Whos? This is a funny fa­ble, played as broad and as big as a car­toon. As long as you have Cindy-Lou as a linch­pin for ac­tion, you’re pretty much set. For ex­tra mea­sure, this stage mu­si­cal throws in two Max the Dogs, one as Old Max (Bob Lauder), who is a nar­ra­tor and the other as Young Max (Matt Weinstein), who is roped in, quite lit­er­ally, into the Grinch’s plans.

Also fill­ing in the story is mu­sic from Ti­mothy Ma­son and Mel Marvin, most of which folds in nicely with “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Wel­come Christ­mas,” the hit songs from the TV movie. Scored much like a movie with lots of melodic vari­a­tions played un­der di­a­logue, some of th­ese new tunes over­stay their wel­come. But then, the Grinch bounds on­stage again and the love re­turns..


The cast of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas! The Mu­si­cal,” which runs through Dec. 27 at the Broward Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts in Fort Laud­erdale.

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