'Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole

Even a grinch can enjoy "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical," but it doesn't hurt to have a kid in the seat next to you. This brightly wrapped and loudly delivered family entertainment is sure to please the holiday crowds at whom this tour (kicking off in Baltimore) is pitched.

Even a grinch can enjoy “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” but it doesn’t hurt to have a kid in the seat next to you. This brightly wrapped and loudly delivered family entertainment is sure to please the holiday crowds at whom this tour (kicking off in Baltimore) is pitched. The 1957 Dr. Seuss book, 1966 animated TV show and 2006 Broadway musical have accrued legions of fans who qualify as honorary citizens of Whoville, so it seems likely that the Grinch’s change of heart will be observed by many.

However, this brief and intermissionless show still seems a bit thin as stage material. The pleasant score by Mel Marvin and efficient book and lyrics by Timothy Mason convey the Grinch’s Scrooge-like ethical conversion, but are not especially memorable on their own.

It’s telling that the show’s two most delightful songs, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome, Christmas,” were composed by Albert Hague for the ’60s TV special. And so many of the numbers are boisterously reprised that even tykes with the shortest attention spans will realize they’ve heard these tunes recently.

What literally elevates this production is its lanky star, the green fur-covered Stefan Karl, who engagingly snarls, prances and even does a little soft shoe. He shrewdly plays to the house, but then again, so does the entire production.

In such a storybook adaptation, the large cast tends to be defined by Robert Morgan’s colorfully form-distorting costumes. But there are warmly humanized performances, including Walter Charles as the narrating dog Old Max and Aaron Galligan-Stierle as an endearingly fresh-faced and sincere Papa Who.

All that stage traffic in Whoville is deftly handled by director Matt August (stepping in for the production’s original creator-director, Jack O’Brien) across a set by John Lee Beatty, whose cut-out town flats easily roll on and off. Musical and tech credits are smooth, with enough lovely bits of stagecraft to make for a more artfully packaged Christmas present than you might expect.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

Hippodrome Theater, Baltimore; 2,286 seats; $70 top

Production

A Running Subway, Shorenstein Hays Nederlander, Dancap Prods., Michael Speyer, Bernard Abrams, Janet Pailet/P2 Creations, Spark Prods., Eva Price & Maximum Entertainment, James Sanna, Audrey Stone Geisel, Old Globe and Children's Theater Company presentation of a musical in one act with music by Mel Marvin, book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, based on the book by Theodore Geisel. Original composer of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome, Christmas," Albert Hague. Directed by Matt August. Original production conceived and directed by Jack O'Brien. Musical direction, Joshua Rosenblum. Original choreography, John DeLuca; co-choreographer, Bob Richard.

Creative

Sets, John Lee Beatty; costumes, Robert Morgan; lighting, Pat Collins, D.M. Wood; sound, Acme Sound Partners; orchestrations, Michael Starobin; incidental music/vocal arrangements, Rosenblum; dance music arrangements, David Krane; music coordinator, Seymour Red Press; hair and wigs, Thomas Augustine; makeup, Angelina Avallone; special effects, Gregory Meeh; technical supervisor, Don Gilmore; production stage manager, Daniel S. Rosokoff. Opened Nov. 11, 2008. Reviewed Nov. 13. Running time: 1 HOUR, 15 MIN.

Cast

Old Max - Walter Charles Cindy-Lou Who - Lexie DeBlasio/Maya Goldman Papa Who - Aaron Galligan-Stierle Mama Who - Jacqueline Piro Donovan Grandpa Who - Stuart Zagnit Grandma Who - Rosemary Loar Boo Who - Spencer Milford/Albert Santiago Annie Who - Carly Maitlin/Kylie Liya Goldstein Danny Who - Guy V. Barfield II/Terrance Thomas Betty-Lu Who - Janelle Viscomi/Morgan Hecker Citizens of Whoville Andrew Arrington, Joseph Dellger, Janet Dickinson, Carly Hughes, Josephine Rose Roberts, Jeff Skowron Who kids - Christina Day, Antoinette DiPietropolo, Kelli Gautreau, Krista Kurtzberg, Sarah Katherine Mason Young Max - Andrew Keenan-Bolger The Grinch - Stefan Karl
Musical numbers: "Who Likes Christmas?," "This Time of Year," "I Hate Christmas Eve," "Whatchama Who," "Welcome, Christmas," "I Hate Christmas Eve" (reprise), "It's the Thought that Counts," "One of a Kind," "Now's the Time," "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," "Santa for a Day," "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (reprise), "Who Likes Christmas?" (reprise), "One of a Kind" (reprise), "This Time of Year" (reprise), "Welcome, Christmas" (reprise), "Santa for a Day" (reprise), "Who Likes Christmas?" (reprise).

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