Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“How The Grinch Stole Christmas! ” The Musical

Kids love Dr. Seuss stories, and as a grandparent, who gets to read and share these stories, over the years, I have fallen in love with his works as well. This is the first visit to Chicago for this musical exploration of the big musical based on the book, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” , the musical and I am sure it will come back again as it is a crowd pleaser for audiences. With a book and lyrics by Timothy Mason and music by Mel Marvin, this is a captivating 90 or so minutes of crowd pleasing story-telling, directed by Matt August. There are some memorable songs, the big one being “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” that is also done as a sing-along with the audience loving every minute.

The show is narrated by Max the dog ( OLD Max, played by Bob Lauder, who looks more like Santa, but clearly makes his mark with that song). YOUNG Max, who we meet as we go back in time to tell this story is played by Seth Bazacas, another feisty performer. There is a great deal of energy in this small, but powerful cast. If you don’t know the story ( shame on you), it is set in Whoville, right before Christmas. All of the Whos are preparing for the special day; getting gifts, hanging ornaments and preparing for the big feast. Meanwhile, The Grinch ( an amazing performance by Stefan Karl) a lonely creature, hates Christmas and is prepared to do whatever he can to destroy the happiness he sees in Whoville. Turns out , his heart is two sizes too small!

He dresses as Santa and goes with Max to Whoville prepared to steal their Christmas. He takes their tows, their stockings, their presents and even the tree. As he is getting ready to leave, the smallest of the Whos, Cindy-Lou Who ( played by Jenna Iacono/Georgia Kay Wise, shows him a different type of spirit and soul, which makes him begin to show some emotions. When he and Max leave Whoville with all the goodies, he is amazed to see that the Whos are still cheerful, still enjoying the holiday spirit that they have been enjoying, which makes him realize that it is not the gifts or the feast that makes Christmas so very special, but in fact, the spirit of the people themselves. “Welcome Christmas” is another charming song in the show. This one, along with “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” were written by Dr. Seuss and Albert Hague.

This is a very colorful production with bright cartoon-like scenery ( John Lee Beatty) and costumes (Robert Morgan) and some wonderful special effects ( although I am not sure they needed the smoke, which seemed to bother the “live” orchestra and the people in the first few rows. We had what appeared to be real snow falling on the audience and a burst of confetti at the end of the show, which leaves the younger set with a fond and special memory of the experience. It also makes it special that the Grinch changes his ways as his heart grows THREE sizes, making him other than a Grinch. I suppose, if the best seats in the house were not $95, I would have given this an even better recommendation, but in today’s economy, this is a bit high. Yes, they do have seats for as little as $18 ( a bit more than a movie), but the best seats at the Cadillac palace are of the upper price  level.

I would hope that in the years to come, one of our local companies might take this production on as their own holiday show and make it more intimate and affordable for more families to be able to see. We have many theater companies who do annual Christmas shows, so why not this one for the younger set ( and those like me, young at heart). This is a spirited show with many lessons to be taught.

The show is here  through December 16th with performances as follows:

Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m.,Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.

The tickets which as I said range from $18-95 are available at the box office of The Cadillac Palace located at 151 West Randolph Street ( or any of The Broadway in Chicago box offices) by phone at The BroadwayInChicago Ticketline 800-775-2000 at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com

For other opinions, visit www.theatreinchicago.com  go to Review Round-up and click on “How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical”



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