The Grinch Finds the Spirit Of Christmas in Costa Mesa

Gather your little “Whos” and your elderly bah-humbuggers to the theatre quick before the Grinch takes Christmas elsewhere.  DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISMAS! THE MUSICAL is now playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa for a short run. This right of passage holiday tale is onstage to the delight of all with all the noise, noise, noise that you Grinch-lovers expect!

Normally packed into a 26-minute animated holiday special, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS has been delighting audiences and theatre’s across the nation for years with this 90-minute ballad.  Fans will find additional new delightful music by Mel Marvin and lyrics from Timothy Mason along with the beloved original tunes by Albert Hague and Dr. Seuss.  Set design was tastefully crafted to depict the original artwork of the book to recreate the feel of the story most of us have grown up with and past along to new youth.

This is not the Jim Carrey film version released several years ago. You can rest assured that this takes from the original piece of work and stays true to the witty light-hearted, non-Tim-Burton-like, poetic book your familiar with.  While the original animated feature was packed with a punch, this brisk musical can still feel a little stretched at times.

However, no need to fret about your young ones getting squeamish as by the time they may get a bit restless, comedy will ensue and engaging breaking of the 4th-wall enraptures the audience once again.  Let’s be honest with ourselves; while this is definitely a family musical, it still caters to the target audience of under 10 with a dash of enough nostalgia and humor to keep adults from feeling alienated.

Segerstrom Center - GRINCH Company - Photo by PaparazziByAppointment.com_3

This story begins mostly by following the point of view of Grinch’s dog Max post his traumatic experience with the mean one.  With some lengthy songs featuring a grey-haired Max played by Bob Lauder watching over his young self as if he is looking into Christmas of yesteryear it can become cumbersome, but the Grinch shows up just in time.  Lauder does a perfect rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” with a brief sing-a-long that helps this stage show immerse the audience into our holiday spirits.

The Grinch is played by a 7 year veteran to the role, Stefan Karl, who is known for his internationally renowned role of as the villain in the TV Series LAZY TOWN on PBS Sprout.  This role may be near impossible to oversell, but at times you’ll wish that Grinch could lose a little of is raspiness especially during certain songs.  He has a superb voice, but his Grinch voice may work better knowing a little goes a long way.

Whoville’s cast of characters are as colorful and whimsical as you could have dreamt. Parading their candy-striped costumes, their jolly and love for Christmas is unmistakable yet at times perhaps too bother-able. It’s Dr. Seuss, let me make up some words.  These charming characters carry a tone throughout and offer plenty of lively musical acts. It one Whoville citizen that stands above the rest; little Cindy-Lou Who (Played by Raleigh Shuck during opening night).  Your heart will melt as she sings the stand-out number “Santa for a Day” and then continues to rally Grinch into changing his attitude toward Christmas.  If she did convince the Grinch, she sure convinced me. 

It all collimates into that climatic moment that rivals the timeless A Christmas Carol where we had an epic battle between the children shouting out Grinch’s line to get it out of him.  ’Tis was a moment that made me see that this tale is still holding ground with a new generation.

I was fortunate to see this with a kid that has already begun her way out of adolescence at the mighty age of 9! You know that time when you start to separate yourself with the kiddies and only want to like what the big kids are liking. She was hard to impress and after having her guard up for much of the show, the show finally broke her grinning with glee. She found her holiday spirit just like you and I have every year when we watch “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”.

This production is directed by Matt August and choreographed by Bob Richard based on the original choreography by John DeLuca and originally created by three-time Tony Award® winning director Jack O’Brien.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL is now playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts – Segerstrom Hall

December 10th – 14th, 2014
Wednesday & Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday at 1 & 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 11 a.m., 2 & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday at 11 a.m., 2 & 6:30 p.m.

Tickets start at $29

For more information visit scfta.org

Don’t forget to head to ORCHESTRA TERRACE LEVEL for a fun photo opportunity aboard Santa’s sleigh led by Max the Reindeer!

Check-out this overview video of the show!