In true Dr. Seuss style, this musical flows from one moment to the next, whisking away every child’s attention along with it. Integrating rhymes from the book, Max, played by Steve Fortune, the Grinch’s dog now old and moving on from Whoville, narrates the winter tale. This classic story is retold to us with humour, affection and enough Christmas spirit to warm even the meanest of Grinch’s hearts, leaving us with the heart-warming message: Christmas is all about holding your friends and family close.
Parents, if Christmas shopping is giving you a headache, you might want to steer clear of the enthusiastic Whovians. But please, don’t be a Grinch! I can guarantee your kids will love this magical experience. Whilst the gags are mostly not that nuanced nor clever, this production perfectly plays to its target audience of young ones. The children are captivated by the Grinch’s extravagant personality, dazzled by the towering set and costumes, and some lucky children were even invited onto the stage at the beginning of the show to listen to an extract of the Grinch straight from the Dr. Seuss’ book. I can only imagine that taking a child to this festive event would be such a joy – wonderful to see their face light up!
Although most of the humour is directed towards the children, there are a couple of much-appreciated knowing nods and winks directed at the grown-ups. Songs alluding to the pressure put on parents to buy gifts at Christmas, a couple of political jabs and some cheeky remarks from the Grinch are good fun and a refreshing break from the animated Whovians. But don’t be mistaken, the Whovians are absolutely mesmerising! Their stylised choreography, sing-song voices, wacky outfits and general air of sugary festive madness is intoxicating. Each ensemble musical numbers blew me away. They were a barrage of bright synchronised pink, white and red dancing bodies in perfect harmony. Throughout these numbers, I couldn’t keep my eyes from watching little Cindy Lou Who, played on this night by Isla Gie.
Gie’s movements are precise and perfect. She dances every number with as much expression and ease as her adult co-stars. It is wonderful to be completely won over by Cindy Lou not just because she is cute (although she is adorable!), but because she is so very talented. Her voice rings out confidently and she commands her character superbly, really coming into her own in the second half. The Grinch, played by Edward Baker-Duly attacks his energy-demanding character throughout the entire 110 minute musical. He will not disappoint fans of the movie, pulling off both vindictive and somehow also appearing amiable, Baker-Duly’s humour is beloved by young and old alike.
Despite what those Grinches may say, Christmas has arrived at Festival Theatre. If you’re looking for a festive treat for the kids, don’t miss out on How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. I wish I had seen this magical musical when I were 10; it would have been a night to remember.
PHOTOS: Festival Theatre