By Jean Lowerison
Watch out! It’s December and you know what that means: it’s time for the annual reappearance of the Grinch, Dr. Seuss’ famous meanie who lives in a cave up on that cold Mr. Crumpit and takes delight in trying to stop Christmas from coming to Whoville down below.
He’s been doing this at The Old Globe for some 24 years now, and horrifying/delighting hordes of playgoers. This year continues that tradition brilliantly.
The world has seen a lot of grinchy behavior in the past 18 months or so, but this Grinch (Andrew Polec) is wearing four pounds of greenness and a face full of strange makeup in addition to the terrible attitude. No wonder he’s in such bad humor. But he is fun to watch, there’s no doubt about that.
You’ll also enjoy this year’s program, which offers two pages of fascinating statistics, like how many wigs and how many sleighs you’ll see.
You remember the plot: Old Max, the Grinch’s dog (John Treacy Egan), is retiring and moving away. He’s come back to say goodbye to his successor Young Max (Tommy Martinez) and the Whos down in Whoville before he moves on. But the old boss is still complaining about the obvious joy the Whos take in their community and most especially in preparing for the Christmas festivities. The Grinch is desperate to stop the fun and devises a really awful plan to steal all the presents so they will have (he thinks) no reason to celebrate.
So he ties antlers to his poor dog, hitches him to the sleigh and down to Whoville they go. But no matter how mean he is, the Whos still offer kindness, friendship and Christmas dinner. How can any self-respecting grouch deal with that?
You know the answer, but you’ll love seeing it onstage for the first or the 24th time. I’ve seen every production of it and I get misty every time.
The cast is great, as always. I think Polec is my all-time favorite Grinch because of the way he tosses in enough humor to make you go along with him. The kids are double-cast; we saw the red team and all were adorable and fun to watch, especially Leila Manuel’s Cindy-Lou Who, the one who manages to melt the old grouch’s heart.
Tommy Martinez is great, returning as Young Max, as is Egan as his reminiscing elderly counterpart. Larry Raben, Bets Malone, Christopher M. Ramirez and Ariella Kavashny round out the speaking adults. There’s a bevy of other Who adults and kids who all look great and sing and dance with gusto.
This particular production adds some different, peppy choreography by Bob Richard to add to the original by John DeLuca.
James Vásquez directs with just the right touch, and Elan McMahan leads the capable orchestra. It all adds up to a show that may just have you singing or at least humming along with the songs.
“Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” runs through Dec. 31 at The Old Globe’s Shiley Theatre. Performance times vary; check www.TheOldGlobe.org or call the box office at (619) 234-5623.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of entering the theater will be required.