Grinch headed to Auditorium Theatre

02:30 PM, Dec 09, 2013

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is at the Auditorium Theatre Tuesday through through Sunday. (Paparazzi by Appointment/Provided by RBTL)/


Written By Sandra Parker

It’s as much a Christmas classic as presents under the tree — this mean, not-so-lean, green Grinch wearing a Santa hat atop his fuzzy head and a devilish smile on his face.

The national touring company of the musical How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, featuring celebrated actor Stéfan Karl as everyone’s favorite anti-Santa comes for the first time to Rochester for 10 performances at the Auditorium Theatre.

It’s like a pop-up book,” says Karl, now in his sixth year as star of the touring show. “The Grinch can just jump over the pit at any moment — it’s exciting,”

The Icelandic actor also is known for his portrayal of villain Robbie Rotten in the Nick Jr. show Lazy Town, for which he won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award.

Karl’s Grinch is known for his silly antics as he behaves badly at the home of Cindy Lou Who in Whoville. He grabs the star from atop the Christmas tree and rubs it under both armpits, stomps on a wrapped gift, licks the Who pudding from the refrigerator and emits a thunderous belch. At one point he carries a toy toward the audience, announces that he hopes he doesn’t drop it, then says oops as it tumbles off the stage.

Karl says he makes the Grinch just scary enough to be fun and enjoys the interaction with the audience.

I really feed off their energy,” says Karl, who estimates that he has played the role at least 500 times. “I hope they never forget this experience.”

The characters’ personalities in the 90-minute show stay true to Dr. Seuss’ 1957 book. Their zany costumes look like candy canes gone mad, with stripes and swirls and bulbous middles.

The show is quite wacky and has funny musical moments,” says composer Mel Marvin. “The music is highly dramatic. Teenagers love this show because it’s real snarky — it’s got bite to it as well as a bunch of sweetness.”

Those funny musical moments are emphasized with lots of percussion and even kazoos in addition to trumpets, saxophones and keyboards, says Marvin, who composed the music for all but the two songs, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome, Christmas,” retained from the television version.

The show appeals not only to children but to adults, judging by the number of people wanting their photo taken with the Grinch (played by Jensen Scott Clifford) at the Amerks game on Nov. 22, says Linda Glosser, executive vice president of Rochester Broadway Theatre League. “It’s a show that’s been around so long — it’s got legs. We hope it will come around again in a few years’ time.”

Parker is a Rochester-area freelance writer.

If you go

If you go

What:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m., 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St.

Cost: $32.50 to $67.50.

For tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

Note: After the Rochester run, the show moves on to Buffalo for 10 performances from Dec. 17 to 22 at the Shea’s Performing Arts Center.