"How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Musical" is Big, Glitzy Fun at Playhouse Square

click to enlarge "How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Musical" is Big, Glitzy Fun at Playhouse Square
The Grinch Musical

Yeah, I know it sounds like a play about president-elect Trump (ack!, ack-ack! sorry). But it isn’t. It’s actually a musical with live human beings, based on the wonderful animated feature that plays every year on the tube at this time.

Although the cartoon version has loads of charm, thanks to the drawings inspired by Dr. Seuss, that master of the deft stroke—be it with drawn lines or rhyming words—this touring production is big and glitzy and captures a lot of what the show on TV offers. And it’s major fun for all the tykes in the audience, of whatever age.

Phillip Bryan stands out, of course, as the nasty, wasty Grinch who doesn’t want Christmas to come. His pilfering of all the gifts and goodies in Whoville is staged with dynamic fun, and ultimately his sleigh is loaded with a mountain of purloined stuff.

Also excellent is Bob Lauder as Old Max, the dog, who narrates the story. Most importantly, he does a finejob with the killer song of the show, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!” Somehow he actually sounds a bit like Thurl Ravenscroft who sang the original with his basso profundo voice. Also amusing is Andreas Wyder, who shakes his hind leg convincingly as Young Max.

Plus, the costumes designed by Robert Morgan are a hoot, particularly the Grinch’s bilious green fur thing with hands and fingers that look like two spider plants gone evil. And all the broad-beamed Whos in Whoville appear warm and cuddly, even though they all are badly in need of some Spanx.

All in all, this is a show that will help your heart grow at least two sizes, maybe even more.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Through December 16 at Playhouse Square, Connor Palace, 1615 Euclid Avenue, 216-241-6000.
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Christine Howey

Christine Howey has been reviewing theater since 1997, first at Cleveland Free Times and then for other publications including City Pages in Minneapolis, MN and The Plain Dealer. Her blog, Rave and Pan, also features her play reviews. Christine is a former stage actor and director, primarily at Dobama Theatre...
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