REVIEW: ‘The Grinch’ a funny holiday show at DPAC for kids

Dec. 04, 2013 @ 10:43 AM

Children laughed throughout “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” on opening night at the Durham Performing Arts Center. The Grinch stole laughs the way he stole Christmas decorations and presents from the Whos in Whoville in the national tour of a Broadway production on the holiday classic. It’s at DPAC through Sunday.

The Whos in their bright pink and red – with black and white Seussian illustrated set – immediately brighten the 2,800 theater with a blast of Whoville-ness. Extra points for the male cast members who donned their Who suits with a round mid-body pod and slight tail over stockings for a costume creation that could only be described as…well you can’t describe it. Silly Seuss? Unique? Found only in Whoville? Yes, that’s it. The female Whos have mid-body roundness too, with dresses draped over the pods, creating shapes only a Who can do. There are so many details to notice about the Whos, it takes the first few songs just to get a good look at each one. While adults are noticing that, kids are just immersed in the song and dance and Seuss-ness of it all between glimpses of that mean ole Grinch (Stefan Karl). He’s a little scary but not too scary, and has enough humorous lines to mix any nefariousness with comic relief. Children may not realize they’ve seen Karl before, as he portrays another villain on television – Robbie Rotten on the PBS Sprout show “LazyTown.” He has the act down pat.
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” uses a retirement-aged Max the Dog as narrator. Old Max (Bob Lauder) is a mutt wiser than his tagalong younger self (Andreas Wyder) who we watch reluctantly accompany the Grinch’s evil plan. Lauder is an operatic baritone, something hinted at early in his narration and exemplified later, a treat for adults who are listening.
Otherwise the production has the expected Grinch hits, like “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “What Cha Ma Who,” plus a lot more to fill out the hour and a half show based on a half-hour cartoon. Adults might not be kept at rapt attention as much as children, but that’s fine, as children are the ones, like the Whos, who delight in every aspect. Another note, for the middle class seats: Usually when a production shoots something off from the rafters or stage, those up front get all the goodies. In this show, the further back you sit, the more you will feel the wintry magic. And there’s a round two with a different material. I won’t give it away, but your kids will love it.


WHAT: “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical”
WHEN: Through Sunday
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham