New cast additions and topical ad-libs make Dr. Seuss-inspired musical as fresh as ever
For many San Diego families, kicking off the holidays with the Old Globe’s “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” has become an annual tradition. And with the Timothy Mason-Mel Marvin musical marking its 22nd Globe season, that tradition is now being marked by its second generation of attendees.
But while some traditions grow musty with age, this year’s edition of the “Grinch”, which opened Friday, looks and feels just as fresh and ebullient as when the Jack O’Brien-directed production debuted in 1998. Now safely in the hands of longtime director James Vásquez and musical director Elan McMahan, the show still sparkles.
The exuberant Edward Watts, returning for his third year as the green-skinned Grinch, has layered the role this year with more audience interaction, more physical comedy, more blown raspberries and more topical one-liners (like a well-deserved jab at Balboa Park’s ubiquitous scooters).
Swivel-hipped Tommy Martinez abounds with boyish joy in his second year as the Grinch’s faithful dog, Young Max, and a quirky newcomer John Treacy Egan takes over as Old Max, who narrates the Seussian storybook tale.
Adorable Sophia Adajar and Leila Manuel alternate in the role of Cindy-Lou Who, the young girl who melts the Grinch’s heart after he plots to ruin the holidays of all the Whos in Whoville.
Newcomers Kevin Hafso Koppman and Katie Sapper bring a gentle, younger vibe to the roles of Papa and Mama Who. Larry Raben returns in his winning portrayal of the slightly senile Grandpa Who. And Bets Malone, who spent the past six years as Mama Who, is able to showcase her comic, kookier side this year as Grandma Who.
Not only is the “Grinch” musical aging well, but its multi-generational audience embraces each song and joke with near-reverence, right down to the show’s final sung question: “Who likes Christmas?” On Friday night, hundreds of audience members shouted out in gleeful unison: “Me!”
“Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
When: Performance times vary; check with theater. Through Dec. 29.
Where: Old Globe Theatre’s Shiley Stage, Balboa Park.
Tickets: $29 and up for adults; $19 and up for children. Kids under 3 may attend 11 a.m. performances only; under 2 admitted free but must occupy same seat as parent or guardian. Every attendee must have a ticket.
Phone: (619) 234-5623