Nearly thirty years ago, Children’s Theatre Company In Minneapolis commissioned and first presented “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.” With music by Mel Marvin and lyrics and book by Timothy Mason, this through-composed adaptation was a children’s operetta that managed to musically encapsulate the 1957 Dr. Seuss book.
Later productions added songs from the 1966 Chuck Jones animated television version, with music by Albert Hague and lyrics by Theodor Geisel, Dr. Seuss himself.
In its initial Broadway run in 2006, the show broke box-office records to the point where extra shows were added. It has been a seasonal phenomenon ever since, with annual runs in Madison Square Garden and multiple touring versions.
This year’s Chicago incarnation is a non-Equity production with an excellent cast that does not disappoint.
What makes “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” an ideal family holiday stage experience is that it is a show that even the youngest children can delight in as well as parents and even grandparents. The story has immense familiarity and the cast thoroughly engages the audience with constant and direct interaction. It runs eighty-five minutes without intermission, but there is so much going on with the constant singing, dancing and special effects (such as snow that extends over the audience) that kids remain involved.
And the message of Christmas being so much more than the trappings the Grinch tries to take away from the Whos is important and here it is served up with a heaping helping of empathy alongside the roast beast.
Through December 31 at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph. Tickets are available at broadwayinchicago.com.