Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Who likes plays? Whos like plays!"

Play Review: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas- The Musical"

No Christmas festivities could be complete without the Grinch! Many grow up watching the Chuck Jones special on TV, and this stage version brings the book alive...and then some.

The story is told in the eyes of Max, the Grinch's dog, who now is old and grey and talking about a Christmas from long ago (played by John Larroquette). He introduces the Whos, all looking like they just walked right out of the book. The real treat and reason to see the show is for the Grinch, magnificently played by Stefan Karl. His energy and audience interaction drives the play along. And just like the book, he is ever so determined to stop Christmas.

There are quite a few musical numbers featuring the Whos, and overall, I thought the ensemble was featured a bit too much. Their numbers started getting a tad boring and monotonous at times. I felt like there should have been more character development with the Whos and why they can't stand the Grinch. Also, I felt like there should have been more attention on Cindy Lou-Who, rather than all of the Whos. But must be pretty hard to translate a children's book into a play and I give the author props for that!

I'm a sucker for musicals and have been a huge theatre geek all my life, and I always love it when newer shows play a tribute to "classic broadway." The Grinch's solo "One of a Kind" is reminiscent of Joel Grey's jazzy routines. And of course, the true show stopper is when Larroquette sings the classic "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," with occasional duets from Young Max (James Royce Edwards) and the Grinch, with flashing visuals of the Grinch stealing gifts and toys from little Whos. The attention to detail from the animated classic and book is great, and the sets really make you feel like you just walked into the pages of the book.

However, the main message from Dr. Seuss remains clear with the interaction between Cindy Lou-Who and the Grinch. Their combination and love makes the play a heartwarming tale for families all over to enjoy the magic of Christmas.

Overall Rating: ****/ ***** (4 out of 5 stars)

"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Performance schedule varies, but includes 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; and weekend performances at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. Ends Jan. 3. $25 to $100. (800) 982-2787 or Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

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