Take a 10-minute book, turned into a 30 minute tv special, and expand it to a 90-minute intermissionless musical, and you have the plusses and the minuses of the holiday musical “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” which is currently playing multiple times a day at the Detroit Opera House on its holiday tour.
There isn’t much critical to say about this production — it looks swell and the costume and set design is colorful and works well. The cast members are covered in loads of makeup and hair design, so they are pretty much interchangeable. I have several friends in this cast, and (honestly) I couldn’t pick them out in the ensemble for quite some time. Though I guess that is what it is.
Stefan Karl is an excellent Grinch, and he is clearly having a ball playing his part. He’s surrounded by an energetic cast, singing unremarkable songs, only the original animated tv version songs stand out (and “Your a Mean One Mr. Grinch” follows you home after the show — seriously, I listened to it about three times in the car on the way home and changed my ringtone to the tune)…and the Grinch stealing the presents sequence is brilliant.
The first third of the show is slow-going, but what follows is a holiday treat — well written, finely performed, and expertly designed, it’s like holiday cookies and milk. Sugary sweet, check. Lump in the throat, check. Grinch’s heart growing three sizes, check. Yours too. Feeling guilty in enjoying this tasty treat, check.
Just to make sure, though, there isn’t any mistaking this production with a typical Broadway show (even though this did run in NYC for several seasons)…it’s a holiday entertainment that is fun for the entire family. And based on this afternoon’s very full (and skewed toward toddlers) audience, families are turning out in droves.
Welcome, welcome Christmas Day…fun fluff, you’ll have a fun time.