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16th December 2019

Review: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! the Musical

Theatre Editor Jay Darcy reviews Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, starring Griff Rhys Jones OBE, Edward Baker-Duly and Matt Terry
Review: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! the Musical
Photo: Manuel Harlan.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is my favourite Christmas movie. In fact, I do not really like Christmas movies very much at all, but The Grinch will always have a special place in my heart.

Now, as problematic as Dr. Seuss may be, there is no denying that his whimsical children’s stories are marvellous, with The Grinch being one of his best. Jim Carrey and Taylor Momsen (when she was still innocent) starred in the live-action movie adaptation (2000), which had a mixed reception but was a box office hit and is the third highest grossing holiday film of all time. An animated adaptation, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, was released in 2018; it again received a mixed reception but went on to become the highest grossing holiday film of all time, ahead of Home Alone. So, clearly, people love them some Grinch.

The stage adaptation of The Grinch is a Broadway hit that precedes the original movie. Its synopsis is closer to the original story than the live-action film, which added new characters and backstories to create a movie for the whole family to enjoy. So there is no Martha May Whovier (Emmy and Tony winner and Golden Globe nominee Christine Baranski), no villainous mayor (Golden Globe and Emmy winner Jeffrey Tambor), no love-triangle between the Grinch, Martha and the Mayor, no backstory about the Grinch’s arrival to Whoville and the bullying and torment he faced at school, amongst other noticeable differences.

The simplistic story of the stage version made it clear that its intended audience was children, but the jokes could be appreciated by people of all ages, and it was a nice evening of nostalgia for people who grew up with the live-action movie adaptation, like me.

The set (John Lee Beatty) was quirky and colourful but not too elaborate nor impressive; it provided a nice pantomime-y feel, which I’m sure children appreciated. The cutesy costumes (Robert Morgan) deserve merit, especially the fantastic Grinch costume.

Edward Baker-Duly played the titular character to perfection. His voice and mannerisms resembled Jim Carrey’s iconic portrayal. He was, undoubtedly, the best part of this camp, silly show. The Grinch’s dog, Old Max, was played by two different actors. Old Max, who narrated the show, was played by veteran theatre actor Griff Rhys Jones OBE, whilst Young Max was played by The X Factor 2016 winner, Matt Terry.

I knew that Terry would win The X Factor; I watched him perform and knew that he was destined for stardom, yet even appearing on the English version of Enrique Iglesias’ hit song Súbeme la Radio has not managed to make him the star that he deserves to be.

Whilst he was good in this musical, he should not have fallen into musical theatre so quickly (Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke both achieved great success before performing on Broadway and the West End, respectively). Shortly after his debut album was released (and flopped), he took on the lead role in Madagascar.

Terry did not get to showcase his impressive vocal talent in The Grinch, aside from the odd moment when he was allowed to harmonise and riff a little. He is also a lovely person (I’ve met him), and whilst I was glad to see him in The Grinch, I would much rather he be gracing arenas than theatres, but, alas, I guess that is just the nature of the industry.

If you are wanting to see something camp, colourful and quirky this Christmas, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas is the show for you. It runs at the Lowry until the 5th of January.

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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