Children’s musical theatre is a limited palate considering that musical theatre is an acquired state. Since 2018’s Jesus Christ superstar live concert, the peacock’s network’s first musical venture- America got a crash course in that fact courtesy of NBC’s Dr. Seuss, The Grinch Musical! Family audiences are kept in mind before planning most theatres and live musicals, but, to an audience of 12 years and younger, Grinch is especially dedicated.
In 1994, at Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company, The musical adaptation of Dr. Seuss Christmas Classic was brought to life. The kids were focused on to get immersed in the breezy distraction of 85 minutes. Small screen cannot be related to the shared communal space of a holiday theatre and the magic that conjures up there. The show went popular in several national tours and it went on to have a successful seasonal run on Broadway.
The musical source material is the biggest issue of NBC’s Grinch. The memorable songs of the show was only taken from the 1966 and 200 film adaptations with Mel Marvin’s painfully and utterly tuneless score makes Suessical look like a masterpiece in comparison. The script developed by Timothy Mattison is unnecessarily convoluted and is not very well off. An older version of Grinch’s Dog Max reflects on his life as a young pup narrates this version of the Grinch. The dog is narrating the time when he lived at his hairy green owner’s mercy. Even basic plt momentum, meaningful themes and logical character arcs of the show are little in the way. Before another commercial arose to break up the flow, the scattered production could barely get into a story telling groove between the whole underdeveloped subplot of Cindy-Lou Who’s multi -generational family and the rhyming dialogue. O’Hare and Stewart, unsure of pitching their performance on the screen or the stage, came a little flat even though they are reliable charm factories. When it came to putting a stamp on Seuss’ big screen meany, Matthew Morrison made the puzzling decision to take no decision at all. Mr. Schue was referred to and it seemed like he, for too long, was in the choir room. The whisper of the Grinch was full on nightmare-fuel though his singing voice was quite strong.
The positive points included the beautiful set design which grasped the original book’s illustration aesthetics, fun costumes of the characters and a committed Who ensemble. In London’s Troubadour Theatre, this production was filmed onstage. Rather than replicating a TV movie experience, it was quite refreshing to see one of the live musicals without replicating a TV movie experience, embracing with open arms the conventions of theatricality. Max Webster’s staging was nicely complimented by Julia Knowles’ camera direction. The Grinch never added up to more than the sum of the whimsical parts, despite all of this. The ephemeral magic was missed which can only come from being physically present in a theatre alongside fellow audience members and live stage performers. The show’s fourth wall breaks and the fart jokes aren’t hard to imagine to go down a lot easier when from a giddy young audience the gales of their laughter are met with. From the comfort of their own homes, the audience could relive the magic during this pandemic.