I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the silly traditions of Christmas. While I’m adamant about not getting caught up in the extreme consumerism of the holiday, I am a total sucker for lights, stockings, trees, Santa, and especially the stable of Christmas TV specials that haven’t changed since long before I was born. Sure, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer may be the same hokey claymation it was when I was 4, but without fail I will stop whatever I’m doing to watch it. There are, of course, a handful of these Christmas classics, but for me, the top tier will always be the aforementioned Rudolph, along with Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Based on the classic picture book by Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a story that everyone knows, even if you haven’t watched the animated television version for 26 straight years. It’s all quite simple: the Grinch is a grumpy green fellow who hates Christmas, particularly the celebration of the holiday by the Whos – a people who love Christmas without restraint. The Grinch dresses up like Santa, he steals all of the Whos’ Christmas paraphernalia, the Whos celebrate anyway, the Grinch’s heart warms, and everyone’s happy.
The Grinch is a wonderful subject for a musical, with its lively characters and imaginative setting, not to mention a pair of beloved songs from the TV special. While the musical has a relatively short 90-minute run time, there is still plenty of room for lively new songs, a deeper look at the characters that make up Whoville, and for the scene-stealing Grinch himself to have a wonderfully hammy time.
Told from the perspective of the Grinch’s dog Max looking back on the fateful night when the Grinch tried to steal Christmas from the Whos, the musical is a bright, fast, and fun ride through a familiar winter wonderland. The sets are all decorated to resemble the familiar monochromatic drawings of the original Dr. Seuss artwork. It does take some time to get used to the look of the Whos, but their detailed costumes do an excellent job of transforming the actors into whatever exactly a Who is supposed to be.
Without question, the star of the show is the Grinch himself. He may be a grouch, but he’s got charisma to spare, chewing up scenery at will, and bringing the biggest laughs and most rousing musical numbers of the evening. You may be waiting for his heart to grow three sizes, but the Grinch brings as much fun and life to the stage as a whole handful of Whos.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an enjoyable and entertaining way to relive a true holiday classic. Things may slow down a bit whenever the focus shifts to the Whos, but the Grinch is never far from center stage to keep things cooking. While it may not be a Broadway show full of show-stopping numbers, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is perhaps the most fun way to kick off the Christmas season in town.