By Lisa Steiner
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, The Lied Center, Thursday December 22, 2022
There have been a lot of live musicals airing on TV lately. One from 2020 was on NBC: “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical Live!” This came to my mind as How The Grinch Stole Christmas began with narration from Old Max, the dog owned by The Grinch. Further research showed that the current children’s Christmas show at The Lied Center was actually the same musical, which opened on Broadway in 2006.
I’ll be honest; I wasn’t a fan of the live TV version with Matthew Morrison starring as The Grinch. So I wondered what this live theater version would be like. Maybe I’m a snob, but it was another example of how seeing a musical on stage is just somehow better. I’m all for creating access to theater across the airwaves (especially on broadcast TV), so of course I’m appreciative that it exists too.
TV or stage, James Schultz as The Grinch was the ultimate slimy green Scrooge of Whoville. He had impressive range in both physicality and vocal prowess, and even gave me Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show vibes. His vaudevillian number “One Of A Kind” was a showstopper, complete with a Mylar rain curtain, bright lights, and breaking the fourth wall.
Tiny Cindy-Lou Who did some stealing of her own; her ballad “Santa For A Day” stole our hearts with her crystal clear soprano. I wish I knew who was playing her to give proper credit, but I’m sure both the young ladies alternating in the role, Aerina DeBoer and Sofie Nesanelis, do an equally wonderful job.
The set was filled with backdrops and platforms in black, white, and red drawings as seen in the original Dr. Seuss book, with dazzling lighting filling the stage with all sorts of other colors and shine. Be prepared to block some of that light out during the scene with The Grinch and Max zooming down the mountain; a row of lights along the stage and proscenium start to rotate around and flash out into the audience. I’m not sure if this is intentional to sort of hide the fact that they’re not actually flying, or if it was an oversight; perhaps it was just where I was sitting.
A great thing about this show is that it’s just as animated as the original cartoon production. All of the actors shuffled about with their hands flexed perfectly as Whos. Costuming was similar as well, with prosthetics used to show the unique Who body. Some of the protruding bellies weren’t as effective as others, looking more like an inner-tube with clothing over them. Not a big deal, but I think with a little more attention that wouldn’t have occurred.
The cast was pretty diverse, and included an ensemble member, Meredith Aleigha Wells as Punky, who is the first wheelchair user to perform in a Broadway National Tour. I absolutely loved seeing them featured in all of the choreography and being included as a Who who happened to use a wheelchair.
The score is just okay for me. There are some songs better than others, but it’s not one that I came out of the theater humming on the way home. That said, the more-than-capable live orchestra and all of the singers were spectacular.
If you’re able to get your children to this show, or you’ve got some killer Seuss nostalgia going on, this is a great opportunity to get your Christmas fix. As an adult without children, I don’t necessarily recommend going if you’re not already excited about it; maybe save your money for something else coming up at The Lied. But it was definitely a zany and energy-packed show as close to a Saturday morning cartoon as real people can get, perfect for those young and young at heart.
If you go: The production has four more shows: December 23 at 10am, 2pm, and 7pm, and December 24 at 10am. There are limited tickets to this show, so don’t delay! Give it up to this company for working all the way up until Christmas! Tickets can be purchased at https://www.liedcenter.org/.
Lisa Steiner is a long-time lover of theater and the arts who enjoys performing, music directing, and filling the role of patron. She has a Bachelor of Music degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University, where she also was a staff writer, layout designer, and production editor for The Reveille newspaper. During the day, Lisa is a case manager for the Department of Health and Human Services. Through this great position, she is able to combine her strengths of working with people and completing paperwork. Lisa also has two cats, Sienna and Lucy, who tolerate each other.
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