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November 19, 2008

Baltimore Hippodrome's "Grinch"

Roy Meachum

What a delightful idea! Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre decided to bring in for the holidays "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical."


And there up on stage were the spitting-images of the costumes, houses and scenery of the beloved book; instead of balloons over their heads the Seuss men, women and children sing songs that set up what the audience sees before their eyes. Over the nearly 43 years since my first review, I've never seen anything quite like this production. Moreover, I can't recall so many pre-teens in a show.


All this makes the ultimate theatrical happening for the whole family. That "Grinch" who stole Christmas doesn't break for an intermission makes it better: that way younger numbers don't have to be settled in twice and readjust their attention. Kids near me opening night seemed awestruck. And well they should be.


Making his American stage premier, Iceland's Stefan Karl plays the Grinch in a flamboyant style that could run away with the acting honors; the only thing that stops him are the talented children and adults who surround him. Some may recognize Mr. Karl as Robbie Rotten from the "Lazy Town" character he created for Nickelodeon.


Executing the original production, conceiver Jack O'Brien's exaggerated movements demands an exacting discipline that director Matt August and his cast makes look easy. Also due high credits are the production's choreographer, Bob Richard; scenic designer John Lee Beatty; costume designer Robert Morgan; lighting designer Pat Collins and all those back-stage talents that created this froth of a musical.


"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical" makes for a 90 minutes (more or less) of literally fantastic holiday fare available at Baltimore's Hippodrome until this Sunday – November 23.


Give your family and you a favor. Go!!!


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