Whether you are a Who or a Grinch, this high-spirited Broadway spectacle, playing at Seattle's Paramount Theatre through Dec. 7 and presented by STG, is highly engaging (and appropiate) for all ages. This might be your holiday splurge!
Nothing from Dr. Seuss' Christmas classic is missing in this production. The rhymes from the book and the famous song “You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from the animated TV special are still there. But added material serves to flesh out the characters. The long-suffering dog Max benefits most, going from voiceless pet to narrator. The addition of an extended Christmas shopping scene in Whoville changes the nature of the Whos from idyllic community to something more human, but also makes their celebration of a holiday without presents more of a victory.
Dr. Seuss' visual aesthetic was also maintained in the set and characters, with towering hairdos, oddly lumpy bodies and strangely shaped buildings in full color and three dimensions. When the Grinch is on the top of Mt. Crumpet, the Whos down in Whoville are represented by puppets.
Stefan Karl (the villain from the children's TV show Lazy Town) brought elements of his Robbie Rotten character and Christopher Lloyd's Back to the Future character Doc Brown to a larger-than-life Grinch in a furry bodysuit complete with pot belly and long, furry fingers.
He is affected as much by his encounter with the kind-hearted Cindy Lou Who as by the Who's Christmas singing. And well he might be, for Cindy Lou, alternately played by Raleigh Shuck and Aviva Winick, does much more than ask for a drink of water in this production. She tells the wicked Grinchy Claus about her nightmare that the Grinch stole Christmas and assures him, in song, that he is never really alone. (“Oh no, a ballad!” groans the Grinch in an aside to the audience.)
My 6-year-old daughter was awed to see a little girl only a couple of years older than herself singing on stage. She talked about Cindy Lou and her beautiful song all the way home.
The entire performance is either sung or in rhyme, and there is a lot of activity on the stage. A sing-along, snowfall and a confetti cannon are among the many ways this production keeps the audience on its toes and kids of all ages engaged.
Parents should know
Although the Grinch occasionally startles characters on the stage and makes mean faces or growls, he is more funny than scary, even for little kids. Unless your child is frightened by face paint (see the video montage for an idea of the costumes) there is nothing to concern parents about this show.
• Recommended for ages 4 and up, or age 3 if your child can sit still for 90 minutes.
• The cheapest seats are in the thirrd floor mezzanine, but be aware that mezzanine levels are not served by the elevators.
• A limited number of booster seats are available on the east side of the main floor. Arrive early, they do run out.
• Run time is 90 minutes; there is no intermission.
• Listen to the music in advance on the production’s website and of course, read the original Dr. Seuss book.
If you go...
Where: The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle
When: Dec. 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 5 at 8 p.m., Dec. 6 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m., Dec. 7 at 1 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
ASL performance Dec. 7 at 1 p.m.
Open caption performance Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m.
AVIA audio description performance December 7 at 1 p.m.
Tickets: Prices range from $25-$100. Available online or from the box office at 1-877-784-4849.
Parking: The Paramount Theatre does not have a parking lot, but there is a loading zone on Ninth Avenue and Pine for passenger drop off. There are several pay lots in the area as well as garages at the Grand Hyatt, the Washington State Convention Center and Pacific Place Mall. If you can score a spot, metered street parking is free after 8 pm and on Sundays.