EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 5, 2012

It's a mean one

Dr. Seuss classic a colorful holiday blast

By Tracey Dee Rauh
Managing Editor of Features

---- — Who doesn’t love to hate and adore to love The Grinch?

That’s just what theater-goers will do at the Citi Performing Arts Center at the Wang Theatre, where the Broadway musical adapted from Dr. Seuss’ 1957 classic, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” is on stage this month.

Delivering color and atmosphere that feels like it jumped off the pages of the rhyme-master’s book and the sketches of the 1966 cartoon, the show is packing the house little girls donning red, green and black velvet dresses and boys in teeny suits with bowties.

Not that a synopsis is necessary, but for the sake of conventionality, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is about a furry, green and grouchy cave-dwelling creature who lives on Mount Crumpit with his dog, Max. He famously hates Christmas, unlike the holiday merry-makers residing in Whoville below.

With the sounds of pre-holiday joy emanating up to his residence, The Grinch concocts a plan to squelch Christmas for the Whos. He fastens a single antler to Max’s head and a sleigh to his body and makes himself a Santa suit. Rather than delivering gifts and enjoying the trimmings in the homes, he will take it all. And he will gain entry, of course, by way of the chimney.

In the process, however, an encounter with Cindy Lou Who, who is not more than 2, hits an unexpected soft spot inside of him. And the next morning, when the Whos sing despite all of their material losses, his heart grows three sizes. He returns the gifts, becomes the guest of honor, taking a place at the head of the dinner table to slice the rare Who Roast Beast.

At The Wang, Jeff McCarthy channels a cross between Anthony Hopkins and Jim Carrey in his role as The Grinch. He’s appropriately frightening and endearing, skulking and slithering about before opening up and warming up.

In contrast, as the tiny Cindy Lou Who, the young actresses Tori Feinstein (who alternates the role with Abigail Shapiro) innocently flits about, her petite little frame fitting nicely into the arms of most any member of the ensemble. This girl embodies “sweet” and it’s easy to believe she can soften a creature even so hardened as The Grinch.

Old Max (Ken Land) narrates the story, offering a calming effect during set changes. And young Max (Gilbert L. Bailey II) pants and patters and scratches and whines to the delight of so many little children -- and adults.

With a book and lyrics by Timothy Mason and music by Mel Marvin, this “Grinch’s” score incorporates original favorites like “You’re a Mean One” and “Welcome Christmas!,” while adding a slew of clever new song-and-dance numbers by key characters and an outstanding ensemble.

Special effects are fine-tuned, right down to a surprise toward the end that brings audience members in on the action.

If you and your family are looking for a fitting way to welcome Christmas, head to Boston for this show. To be sure, this is theater upon which everyone can feast, feast, and feast, feast feast.

IF YOU GO What: "Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical." Where: Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre, Boston. When: Through Dec. 9. How: For tickets, $35 to $125, visit Citi Performing Arts Center Box Office, online at www.citicenter.org, or call 866-348-9738. visit www.citicenter.org.