Straight outta Whoville, a ‘Grinch’ with attitude
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 BrowardCenter.org 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.