Black Friday is one indicator that the holidays are near – but there are arguably more meaningful ways to celebrate and recognize that the Christmas season is here. The Durham Performance Arts Center presents the Broadway musical production of the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas opens December 2, 2013 and on stage for 10 shows through December 10. This version of the story integrates the nuances of the original animated television special with the Grinch characteristics similar to the movie portrayed and inspired by Jim Carrey. Those familiar with the timeless tale and treasured illustrations know the story of the Grinch, who is bitter, grumpy, and full of angst toward Christmas and vows to steal Christmas from the Whos living in Whoville. The whole village is enamored, enchanted, and enthralled with every aspect of the holiday, from the family gatherings and food to the decorations and presents, and is unaware that the Grinch glares at them from afar with hatred and resentment.
The Durham Performing Arts Center’s evening show is filled with musical hit songs like “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” which encourages the audience to sing along, and “Welcome Christmas,” both from the original animated special. The character of Grinch’s dog Max, now older and wiser, narrates the live production and shares similar vocal tones with the narrator of the original animated movie. The story plays out with magical and whimsical sceneries of machine-made snowflakes falling on the audience, a full cast of adults and children up past their bedtime showcasing vibrant talents and exuberant energy, a live orchestra accompanying the cast in musical numbers – and as with other elaborate Broadway productions, there’s still so much more.
Many notable written stories like O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” movies like “What a Wonderful Life,” and theatrical productions inspired by other great Christmas treasures try to preserve the true meaning of Christmas and the reasons behind holiday celebrations. The Broadway version of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas instills the traditional ideals of the true meaning with music and dances with the legendary Broadway twist. It is conveyed simply in songs like “It’s the Thought That Count” and “Santa for a Day,” sung by Jenna Iacono, playing Cindy Lou Who, and Stefan Karl, playing the Grinch. Jenna Iacono’s sweet and innocent voice and performance have the power to melt away the defensive guards and anger of the Grinch, whose heart was sadly “two sizes too small” at the beginning of the story, while leaving a good lump in the throat for the audience.
As in the original story written by Dr. Seuss, the Grinch plays out his attempts to ruin Christmas for the loving citizens of Whoville. In the end, as he hatefully tries to steal the hope and love that are bountiful at Christmas, the Grinch discovers this special Christmas love from the acts of a pure hearted child named Cindy Lou and the citizens of Whoville. As in the words of the original book and reinforced in this Broadway production, “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling... It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! As he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore … and thought of something he hadn’t before! Maybe Christmas … doesn’t come from a store … perhaps … (it) means a little bit more!” And in this moment his small heart “grew three sizes that day” – and the audience can literally see it growing and glowing.
Happy Holidays for all celebrations and traditions, and may your hearts already be three sizes bigger this festive season!
Other Holiday shows at DPAC:
Natalie Cole: An Intimate Evening Featuring Her Greatest Hits- December 10
Kem: What Christmas Means Tour 2013-December 16
Theatre In The Park: A Christmas Carol -December 19-22
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Ticket Info:
- Online at DPACnc.com
- DPAC Ticket Center: 919.680.2787, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC
- Ticketmaster.com / Ticketmaster Charge by phone at 800.982.2787