You’re a Funny One, Mr. Grinch

Whether you joyously wrap yourself in Christmas spirit (like Veronica) or prefer to remain more of a bitter Scrooge (like Ashley), you can’t escape the classic Christmas tale of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. There’s a cartoon. There’s a movie. Many television shows do their own re-enactment. And until December 30… you can watch the magic come to life on the stage at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

Narrated by a grey and aging Max the Dog, the How the Grinch Stole Christmas Musical takes the audience (full of restless, excited children and their parents) back to the beginning where a scheming Grinch decides to put a stop to the cheerful holiday spirit bubbling over Whoville and steal Christmas away from the Whos.

The songs draw directly from the original Dr. Seuss text and tv special and are delivered with uncontrollable pep and ear piercing Who shrieks, the numbers sticking in your head with the bubble gum stickiness of a children’s pop song.

Bright costumes in rainbows of colour, crazy hair dos and lots of skipping splatters the stage and the set itself is a collection of hand-drawn houses and furniture. The entire aesthetic of the play feels like a living page straight out of a Dr. Seuss story book.

The star on top to the tree, of course, is the Grinch. Such an elastic, animated, expressive role that’s best let loose within the limitless cartoon world (or portrayed by Jim Carrey, who is pretty much a cartoon himself). A role that Icelandic actor Stefan Karl bravely steps into for the Toronto production.

Now, we had awful seats at this performance. We’re talking top balcony, very, very last row. We could not be any further away from the stage (thanks, Sony Centre, for moving our seats without giving us any prior warning). While the sound was no issue, we could not see any facial expressions and relied solely on body movement to draw us in. Not an easy feat if you don’t have what it takes.

Thankfully, Karl sinuously moved around that stage, slithering down the framed walls surrounding the set, posing dramatically, continually wiggling his long stringy green fingers in a bewitching trance. He vivaciously overacted in the necessary way to make that green character truly come alive. And from where we were sitting, the entire performance seemed eerily similar to the original 1966 television special.

As for the loveable, optimistic, fearless little Cindy-Lou Who, well, she even managed to warm Ashley’s cold little heart with her adorable little Who wiggle and flawless performance. Both Brooke Boyd and Carly Tamer are credited for the role (we aren’t sure who took the stage or if it was a shared effort for the Friday December 17 performance), but such little feet immaculately filled those big shoes.

Of course, the purpose of the musical isn’t only to allow us fully grown women to remember what it’s like to be a kid again, but to provide all the little ones with some Christmas joy and entertainment. As we mentioned, that venue was full of kids who were bouncing along with the music and giggling at the Grinch’s antics. And you can only contain a child’s excitement for so long before they are yelling out in the middle of the performance, shouting to the Grinch to help him remember how to properly wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

“Don’t rush me!” The Grinch shouted back, which only caused a sea of laughter and more children to join in until nearly ever child in the audience was hollering out Merry Christmas wishes in between fits of laughter.

Needless to say, the How the Grinch Stole Christmas Musical will thrill all little Whos and maybe even you too.

images from google image search