BY TAMAR NEUMANN: ‘Twas two weeks before Thanksgiving and all through the cities each holiday show began their stirrings. Each cast and director were fully prepared in the hopes that audiences soon would be there. The children were excited for they already knew, the Grinch would soon be back to steak Christmas anew.
I’ll spare you an entire review done in the holiday spirit, but after seeing The Children’s Theatre Company’s production of Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas I can’t help feeling a little Christmas cheer. The Grinch is back in a CTC holiday tradition. He brings with him all the fun of Whoville and all the warm and fuzzy memories from your childhood. If you haven’t had a chance to see this Twin Cities tradition, it’s a holiday treat to put on your list.
The CTC’s production of this treasured holiday classic is just pure fun. Tom Butsch (Scenic Designer), David Kay Mickelsen (Costume Designer) and Nancy Schertler (Lighting Designer) have managed to take the magical world of Dr. Suess and somehow make it tangible. Whoville comes to life and it’s almost better than you imagined. The house of Cindy Lou Who is pitch perfect. The Grinch’s cave is where you remember it, and the streets of Whoville are zany, colorful and inviting. The Whos in Whoville are bright and happy, and, of course, slightly odd-looking. It wouldn’t be a world created by Dr. Suess if the people living there looked like you and me. There are some fun theatrical moments that I won’t spoil, but that help add to the magic of this piece. The CTC brings the book to life in a way that even the most discriminating of fans can be happy about.
Reed Sigmund is back as the Grinch and he is at times terrifying, disgusting, and sweet. His Grinch manages to keep the audience entertained at every moment, even though most of them have read the book, seen the movie, and probably saw CTC’s production of this play last year. It would be challenging to play such a beloved character that has already been performed by other great actors, but Sigmund manages to make his version of the Grinch unique. Young Max, played by Brandon Brooks, is the perfect sidekick to Sigmund’s Grinch. Brooks somehow manages to steal the spotlight every time he is on stage. His character, as a young dog, is endearing, and Brooks knows not to take the character of Young Max too seriously, which keeps everything a little more lighthearted. The rest of the cast help to complete the world of Whoville by giving depth to the Who family and acting as foils to The Grinch.
But perhaps the most resounding piece of feedback I can give this piece of theatre is the tantrum my two-year old son threw as we left the theatre. Having been entranced by the music and spectacle on stage (every time the Whos sang his eyes lit up in wonder) he was incredibly upset that the show had ended and we had to leave. He wasn’t the only child in the theatre sad to say good-bye to the Grinch. And that is why this particular show has remained a staunch tradition in the Twin Cities—because every child should get to experience the magic of Whoville and the transformation of the Grinch.
Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, based on the book by Dr. Suess, book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, music by Mel Marvin. November 11, 2014-January 4, 2015 at the Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis. Tickets: $10 and up; purchase tickets at www.childrenstheatre.org or 612.874.0400.