How the Grinch Stole Christmas
*** 3 Stars
“charming family fun”
Its not quite time to open the first window on the advent calender but the festival theatre is getting in the christmas spirit early with this charming family fun production of Dr Seuss’s classic tale of how the Grinch stole Christmas the musical!
The Grinch has been around since 1956, firstly as Dr Seuss’s charming illustrated poem, then a film with Boris Karloff before a more modern take by Jim Carrey and the popular animated film with the voice of Benedict cumberbatch.
This musical adaptation came to life over 21 years ago in 1998 and its toured in the Fall of each year across the united states and now it recieves its British premier in a tour of the country.
Telling the story of the Grinch who hates christmas and wants to make the people of whoville suffer by stealing all there christmas presents and feast and dump them into the abyss of the valley of crumpit mountain. Its when the citizens celebrate christmas regardless that the Grinch’s heart grows and he find the true meaning of christmas. Its a child friendly take on a christmas carol and while charming there could have been so much more in this production.
Timothy Mason’s Book and Lyrics and Mel Marvin’s Music borrows heavily from the original text of the book and works well with some fluffy light tunes through out but it does lack a stand out number to send the audience home humming. That said the Classic “You’re a mean one, Mr Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas” from the 1966 animation do feature and offer the best of the score.
Performance wise its a mixed bag, the production is advertised as starring Gregor Fisher but its a bit of a misleading casting, Gregor appears as himself at the top of the show for a 5 minute scene where he reads the Grinch story to a group of children invited on stage from the audience, he is then never seen again, not even in the curtain call. Its clearly a case of getting a name on the poster to get the audience in.
Edward Baker-Duly plays the The Grinch perfectly and is clearly inspired by Jim Carrey’s take on the role, his ability to use his face like elastic to convery the character is excellent. Steve Fortune plays “Old Max” with an aged charm and maturity thats highly fitting and truthful. X Factor Star Matt Terry plays “Young Max” and while there is much youthful fun coming from the role, there are moments where it feels a little dialed in and tired which is a shame. Performance wise the star of the show must go to young Isla Gie in the role of Cindy Lou Who for a girl so young to have such a big voice, stage presence and performance ability is stunning and she is joy to watch on stage.
John Lee Beatty’s set is very in keeping with the Dr Seuss’s orginal artwork and again brings a schmaltzy warmth with it and its boosted by Ben Cracknell’s lighting design even if a couple of cues were late. Also we saw far to much of the stage technicians when clearly we arent meant too somthing perhaps Director Matt August can smooth out as the tour continues.
How the Grinch stole christmas is a warm hearted pre christmas treat that could have been so much more than it was but as the snow falls gently across the auditorium you cant help but be moved by its charms. So pop along to festival theatre with the kids in tow before the Grinch disappears for another year.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 30th November, For Tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-the-musical