Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Sure, he's as tall as a power forward and can bench press, he brags, 450 pounds. He can sing up a storm and trip the light fantastic and impersonate everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Wayne to Elvis and Michael Jackson.
The Grinch'll be the first to tell you he's "one of a kind," an island unto himself. But if being unique's such a big deal, why must the evergreen Sasquatch terrorize Whoville on Christmas Eve?
Maybe what the bowling-pin-shaped Whos say is true: his heart is "two sizes too small"; or, even more to the point, it's "full of unwashed socks."
But maybe the Grinch does have a point: Christmas has become too commercial and Whoville has lost the true spirit.
This makes his theft of the presents a kind of intervention. In spite of his eagerness to raise havoc, the Grinch is a Necessary Meanie. He restores the holiday and rediscovers himself in the process.
Steve Blanchard's the new Grinch in town, and he's a hoot. He's nasty enough to inspire trepidation but establishes instant rapport with his audience. Direct addresses and snide asides cement that connection with laughter.
Grinch is actually a memory play: Old Max the dog recalls the time in his youth when things changed radically for the better. Steve Gunderson makes Max unforgettable.
Grinch carries on another tradition: the Globe hires San Diego actors (and gives scads of youngsters experience in a professional production). Geno and Nancy Snow Carr, Phil Johnson, Amanda Naughton, and Randall Dodge are local performers given prominent roles. Not to mention eight-year-old Caitlin McAuliffe, who alternates with Remy Margaret Corbin as Cindy Lou Who.
Wearing Robert Morgan's candystripe costumes, the Whos waddle freely on John Lee Beatty's set, where the snowdrifts look like giant marshmallows.