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How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Old Globe

Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

FINDING BIGFOOT. “Hi. I’m Matt Moneymaker. We’re here at a Whoville Town Hall meeting. Show of hands: How many’ve seen a big, brown-haired creature?

Cindy-Loo Who. “Me! Me! Only his hair wasn’t brown. It was green, and he could channel Elvis, and John Wayne, and ex-governor-what’s-his-enager. And he knew about hashtags, and said 'what up, dawg,' to young Max, and…”

And Steve Blanchard’s Grinch manages the near-impossible: he wins over the audience twice.

First, although obviously an off-kilter simian whose heart is “two sizes too small” - and hates Christmas, children, and all things Who - he does self-centered razzmatazz (“One of a Kind”) and earns round after round of warm applause.

Then, after ransacking every Christmas present – and ornament – in Whoville, he wins approval once again when Cindy-Loo sings “Santa for a Day.” Blanchard drops character and un-Scrooges himself before our eyes.

This is Blanchard’s third go-around in the title role. He’s found a deft way of being just mean enough to turn a snowdrift green, and yet entertain throughout, as if, deep down, the 53-year-old Grinch is an old vaudevillian hoofer miscast as a meanie.

This is the Old Globe’s 16th annual version, conceived and directed by Jack O’Brien (whose memoir, Jack Be Nimble, could be a stocking-stuffer for local theater buffs), with music by Mel Marvin (composer of Yentl and Tintypes) and book and lyrics by Timothy Mason (Levitation, Babylon Gardens).

Since 2003, director James Vasquez has kept it as fresh as the original.

That’s no mean feat. The story’s simple, but the staging demands many a kaleidoscopic effect: the pear-shaped Who’s – their costumes variations on a candy cane – flow and swirl; as does John Lee Beatty’s cartoon-like set, where gigantic scoops of snow (are those walrus tusks dangling from Mt. Crumpit?) must float on and off with a choreography all their own.

One of the best parts of the tradition: San Diego actors get a paid gig.

Geno and Nancy Carr, indefatigable Eileen Bowman, Bets Malone, Kurt Norby, and (possibly setting a record for most musical appearances in a year - make that most successful appearances) Randall Dodge, plus a passel of youngsters getting professional experience –especially seven-year-old Gabriella Dimmick who played Cindy-Lou the night I caught the show (she doubles with Taylor Coleman) and sang the house down.

Jeffrey Schecter scores as Young Max, the Grinch’s loyal mutt. And Steve Gunderson plays Old Max, quite effectively, in a different key. Grinch is actually a memory play. Old Max returns to the site of recollected fondness. And, Gunderson suggests without forcing the thought, he could use some today.

The original Old Max went for laughs. Gunderson doesn’t. He makes a touching, understated transformation almost as sweeping as the Grinch’s.

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Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

FINDING BIGFOOT. “Hi. I’m Matt Moneymaker. We’re here at a Whoville Town Hall meeting. Show of hands: How many’ve seen a big, brown-haired creature?

Cindy-Loo Who. “Me! Me! Only his hair wasn’t brown. It was green, and he could channel Elvis, and John Wayne, and ex-governor-what’s-his-enager. And he knew about hashtags, and said 'what up, dawg,' to young Max, and…”

And Steve Blanchard’s Grinch manages the near-impossible: he wins over the audience twice.

First, although obviously an off-kilter simian whose heart is “two sizes too small” - and hates Christmas, children, and all things Who - he does self-centered razzmatazz (“One of a Kind”) and earns round after round of warm applause.

Then, after ransacking every Christmas present – and ornament – in Whoville, he wins approval once again when Cindy-Loo sings “Santa for a Day.” Blanchard drops character and un-Scrooges himself before our eyes.

This is Blanchard’s third go-around in the title role. He’s found a deft way of being just mean enough to turn a snowdrift green, and yet entertain throughout, as if, deep down, the 53-year-old Grinch is an old vaudevillian hoofer miscast as a meanie.

This is the Old Globe’s 16th annual version, conceived and directed by Jack O’Brien (whose memoir, Jack Be Nimble, could be a stocking-stuffer for local theater buffs), with music by Mel Marvin (composer of Yentl and Tintypes) and book and lyrics by Timothy Mason (Levitation, Babylon Gardens).

Since 2003, director James Vasquez has kept it as fresh as the original.

That’s no mean feat. The story’s simple, but the staging demands many a kaleidoscopic effect: the pear-shaped Who’s – their costumes variations on a candy cane – flow and swirl; as does John Lee Beatty’s cartoon-like set, where gigantic scoops of snow (are those walrus tusks dangling from Mt. Crumpit?) must float on and off with a choreography all their own.

One of the best parts of the tradition: San Diego actors get a paid gig.

Geno and Nancy Carr, indefatigable Eileen Bowman, Bets Malone, Kurt Norby, and (possibly setting a record for most musical appearances in a year - make that most successful appearances) Randall Dodge, plus a passel of youngsters getting professional experience –especially seven-year-old Gabriella Dimmick who played Cindy-Lou the night I caught the show (she doubles with Taylor Coleman) and sang the house down.

Jeffrey Schecter scores as Young Max, the Grinch’s loyal mutt. And Steve Gunderson plays Old Max, quite effectively, in a different key. Grinch is actually a memory play. Old Max returns to the site of recollected fondness. And, Gunderson suggests without forcing the thought, he could use some today.

The original Old Max went for laughs. Gunderson doesn’t. He makes a touching, understated transformation almost as sweeping as the Grinch’s.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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