Capitol Theatre’s “Grinch” gives audiences a sense of holiday nostalgia

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]— Courtesy of Magic Space Entertainment
“Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” premiered at Capitol Theatre this past Tuesday, brilliantly and colorfully recreating the beauty of Dr. Seuss’ timeless book.
The musical successfully connects with the wistful nostalgia of adults wanting to feel like a child again. The Capitol Theatre stage was turned into the winter wonderland of Who-ville, as though the Seussian sketches were lifted directly from the pages of the book itself and given three dimensional life.
The production team of “The Grinch” goes the extra mile in breathing life into the citizens of Who-ville with costumes that are as brilliant on stage as they are in the book, right down to the clever recreation of the Whos’ beehive hairdos and bright red pointy shoes. It’s nearly impossible to keep your eyes off the wonderfully waddling citizens of Who-ville as they cheerfully spread the Christmas spirit in both their dress and their singing and dancing.
While nostalgia is the main ingredient in the success of “The Grinch,” the musical adds its own special flavor by adding to the storyline in a way that doesn’t detract but rather expands on the narrative of the Grinch and his faithful companion, Max. The musical uses an aged and talking Max, played by Bob Lauder, as a Christmas guide to take the audience down memory lane. It’s reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as an older and wiser Max revisits the ghosts of Christmas past in Who-ville. As a result, even well-versed fans of the children’s book get as expanded look into the emotional roller coaster ride that young Max is forced to endure as he assists the Grinch in his devious endeavors.
While it’s a treat to see a young Max, played by Andreas Wyder, sing, dance and cartwheel his way around stage, the star of the show is predictably the Grinch, who is played by Stefan Karl. Karl combines the zany physical characteristics of Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the Grinch with a deep gravelly voice reminiscent of Jeremy Irons. He embodies every characteristic of the lean, green, Christmas-despising Grinch in every sly snarky smile and with every long, limber, slippery step he takes.
Karl plays the Grinch so perfectly it’s hard to tell if he is wearing the Grinch costume or if the costume is wearing him. He masterfully wags his long green furry fingers while weaving his elongated body around every corner of the stage as if it’s his own personal playground. When he isn’t trying to torture the gentle citizens of Who-ville, he skillfully uses his gravelly voice to hurl growls and insults at the audience, to their endless delight.
Karl would be the undisputed star of the show if he weren’t at times being upstaged by the pint-sized Cindy-Lou Who, played by the alternating team of Raleigh Shuck and Aviva Winick. The two steal more than their share of the spotlight with unabashed adorableness, which makes it easy to understand how Cindy-Lou Who could melt or, more to the point, expand the Grinch’s heart.
Despite the phenomenal performances of the cast and the incredibly detailed and skillfully managed set pieces, it was the sense of nostalgia that won the night, as the spirit of Dr. Seuss and his delightfully clever story was beautifully brought to life. By the time the last snowflake had fallen onto the audience and the cast had taken their bows and invited everyone to sing along to “Who Likes Christmas?” there could not have possibly been one person who left the theater without their hearts three sizes bigger.
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