Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is now at the DAPC with performances through this Sunday. If you’re like me your first introduction to Whoville and the miserly Grinch was probably from the 1966 cartoon. Most you probably know the story, but just in case this is the tale of a grumpy old Grinch who lives in cave up on mountain overlooking Whoville. He has a heart two sizes to small and seeks to destroy Christmas, a holiday the residents of Whoville adore. Of course as the story plays out, the Grinch is redeemed and finds himself getting swept up in the holiday spirit and finds the true meaning of Christmas and his place among the Whos.
The theatrical production is features wonderful sets designed by John Lee Beatty and costumes designed by Robert Morgan, inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original book, while the Music and Book of Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason breathe new life into this timeless story. It was wonderful to see the storybook come to life on the stage, the sets and the costumes look like they jumped right from the pages of the book and the colors pop on stage.
The cast is just perfect. Philip Bryan dazzles as the green hairy Grinch. He plays the character in a delightful sarcastic way that has the audiences laughing and cheering for him while secretly yearning for him to find redemption. Danielle Guilbot is equally wonderful as the precious Cindy-Lou Who, with a voice beyond her years and does a fantastic job singing in several numbers. The supporting cast playing the residents of Whoville are spot on playing their parts and bring strong vocal performances as well.
One addition to the telling of the story you will notice is the use of a narrator, which I thought worked really well for the production. Bob Lauder is great as “Old Max,” an older version of the Grinch’s dog and serves as narrator of the story. You are first introduced to him at the start of the show where he is seemingly on his way to heaven when he overhears the Whos signing in the town down below and is reminded of the events of that fateful Christmas Eve long ago. It’s fun to see Old Max reliving those moments as he recalls the story of the Grinch’s diabolical plan and the joy of his ultimate redemption. There are also some cute interactions between Old Max and his younger self.
A few things to know before heading to the show. It runs about 90 minutes long which I found to be just the right amount of time to keep the attention of the younger audience members. Also, there is no intermission, which I also thought was a good idea to keep the story moving and allowing the evening show to end just a little past 9pm. I don’t want to give to much away but there is one particular number that involves a little audience participation which I thought was a very nice touch to the show.
Seeing the Grinch at the DPAC was just what I needed to kickoff the holiday season and get me into the Christmas Spirit. I hope it returns again next year as I can see it becoming an annual tradition for Triangle families. There is still time to catch the show this weekend with shows on both Saturday and Sunday.
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center Tuesday, November 29th through Sunday December 4th. For more information and to order tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/the-grinch.