It’s not mystery that successful stories are fodder for translation into other mediums. A few weeks ago, the hit holiday movie, Elf, had its musical incarnation come through town. And while that one had some significant differences from its film version, the current offering of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at the Durham Performing Arts Center’s is much more true to the original; in fact, one of the most impressive accomplishments in the touring production of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is just how Seuss-like everything is, from sets, to costumes, to the book itself.
The outstanding design team consists of John Lee Beatty (set), Pat Collins and Lauren Phillips (lighting), and Robert Morgan (costumes). The sets have huge, bulbous roofs on Whoville houses and great looping snow caps on the Grinch’s mountainous retreat, all shaded with strong lines — a very Dr. Seuss style of drawing. Morgan’s costumes are a real sight to see: bulging midsections with tight waists; body suits that transform silhouettes and bring Seuss’ Whovillians to perfect light in front of you. The visual and aesthetic aspects of this show are worth the admission price alone.
But, thankfully, the show is more than just looks. The talent onstage is really wonderful: dedicated, fully committed, and a real joy to watch. Bob Lauder’s Old Max, the show’s resilient narrator, is a stoic figure amidst the antics. Andreas Wyder plays Young Max with a big smile and infectious energy. Our title character is played by Stefán Karl; he is slimy, a curmudgeon, and totally hilarious.
The cast is accompanied by a talented orchestra, conducted with much flare by Steven Cuevas. (From our seats, I could see Mr. Cuevas singing along with the cast — a fun treat that exemplified the amount of fun being had by all.)
For what the show is — Holiday Fun — it’s a success. It’s a real testament to the wonder and magic that is theater: it takes a beloved story and transforms it into something new, while still maintaining its ties to the original material. It allows audiences both young and old to experience the story in a new way. The visual feast is ably supported by the magnificent ensemble. It’s only in town through Sunday, so buy your ticket today.
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 6th Raleigh, NC MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM interview with Stefán Karl for the “the MIX Morning Show”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUxDELXDjfkBi7NnL7O3oMLA&v=lyPbUyiXN3o; Dec. 4th Durham, NC Herald-Sun review by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/entertainment/x1848915008/REVIEW-The-Grinch-a-funny-holiday-show-at-DPAC-for-kids (Note: You must register to read this article); Dec. 4th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Glenn McDonald: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/12/04/3431921/colorful-fast-paced-grinch-musical.html; and Dec. 4th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/12/how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-is-a-holiday-must-see/”> http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/12/how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-is-a-holiday-must-see/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Dec. 3rd Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/12/dr-seuss-how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-the-musical-brings-the-beloved-1957-book-to-life/.)
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL at 8 p.m. Dec. 6; 11 a.m. and 2, 5, and 8 p.m. Dec. 7, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco District.
TICKETS: $42.75-$121.75 (including fees).
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1550867.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQkmT8D3GIs.
SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series.
DPAC ADVISORIES: “Content Advisory: Most parents would find this program suitable for ages 4 and above. Kids at DPAC: All guests require a ticket, regardless of age. Children under the age of 4 are not allowed at these performances. Children must be also able to sit quietly in their own seat without disturbing other guests.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957 children’s book): http://www.randomhouse.com/book/43047/how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-by-dr-seuss/ (Random House) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_The_Grinch_Stole_Christmas (Wikipedia).
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966 animated TV special): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss%27_How_the_Grinch_Stole_Christmas!_(TV_special) (Wikipedia).
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (1994 musical): http://www.grinchmusical.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss’_How_the_Grinch_Stole_Christmas!_The_Musical (Wikipedia).
Timothy Mason (lyrics and book): http://americantheatrewing.org/biography/detail/timothy_mason (American Theatre Wing, Inc. bio) and http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=438381 (Internet Broadway Database).
Jesse R. Gephart is a Raleigh, NC-based actor, director, and reviewer. A Gainesville, FL native, he earned a degree in Theatre Performance in 2005 from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. On Dec. 13-15 and 20-22, he will reprise his critically acclaimed role as David Sedaris/Crumpet the Elf in the The SantaLand Diaries as part of part of Theatre in the Park’s second-stage series. To read more of Jesse Gephart’s reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/jesse-r-gephart/.